Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Vegetable Soup with Chickpeas and Basil Pesto

In case you haven't noticed yet, I'm a really big fan of soup. I make it a lot. And given the fact that the weather this week hasn't been very spring-like, I've resorted to making soup to warm me up. I'm moving out of my apartment next week, so cleaning out the pantry and refrigerator has been interesting. I basically threw a few simple ingredients that I had on hand into this soup and I really liked how it came out. It's incredibly healthy and delicious.

I'm excited to say that I am officially finished with my college career. I will be graduating on Sunday with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The past four years have been extremely difficult and some of the most memorable years of my life. I've learned many things, met many people, laughed a lot, and cried a lot. I've learned a lot about myself in the process, as well.
 I've witnessed many aspects of the medical field and the healthcare system throughout my four years as a student. I've cared for incredibly sick people with many chronic illnesses. I've learned about these illnesses extensively, their complications, the medications used to treat them, and the reasons why these diseases are present to begin with. The more I learned, the more I realized that nutrition, and its role in preventing disease, is in many ways ignored by both the medical community and the patients themselves.The powerful healing properties of food is pushed aside. The prevention of disease through a healthy diet is barely touched upon. The chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and hypertension all stem from a poor diet and the only thing the medical profession does is prescribe medications to treat them. And it only is getting worse. It breaks my heart knowing that the children of today will be the first generation who will live shorter than their parents. Obviously, something is terribly wrong with this picture.
Hippocrates famously said, "Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food" and I could not find a better way to say it. It's so true. I can only hope that I live a life that embodies this quote and show others the same. It is possible to live a life free from chronic disease. Healthy, vibrant, fresh, and delicious food is the way that can be achieved. No one taught me that in nursing school, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Vegetable Soup with Chickpeas and Basil Pesto
2 medium zucchini, diced
2 large carrots, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth or water 
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (read this post on how to cook beans)
1 cup cooked wheat berries*
sea salt
pinch of dried rosemary
pinch of dried thyme
fresh basil

1. In a large soup pot, cook the onions, celery, and carrots in the olive oil over medium heat 3-4 minutes.

2. Add the chopped garlic and then immediately add the can of diced tomatoes and broth (or water). Add the rosemary, thyme, cooked chickpeas, and cooked wheat berries. Bring to boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and continue to let the soup simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened up a bit.

3. Add the diced zucchini and let cook about a minute or two. Taste and add salt if the soup needs it.

4. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with fresh basil leaves and top with a spoonful of basil pesto and Parmesan cheese.

*To cook wheat berries:
Wheat berries should be soaked overnight in a bowl with water. In the morning, drain them and put them in a pot with new water to cover them about 3 inches. Bring water to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes until some of the berries crack and they're chewy and tender. Drain.

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