Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Low-fat minestrone bursting with vegetables

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WITH the new year, many cooks make resolutions to eat better. Since I'm currently in recovery from 12 Days of Christmas Cookies, I thought I would find some healthy recipes this week. Marcy Mazur sent in this minestrone soup recipe, low fat and bursting with vegetables, in a response to a fall request for tomato-based soups.

Judy Tyler was looking for a recipe for bran muffins made with buttermilk that was printed on the package of all-natural bran flakes. I'm hoping a reader has clipped it, but in the meantime, I'm offering a healthy muffin recipe made with oat bran, honey and golden raisins.

Jack and Carol Boyer are hoping someone saved a Free Press recipe for "never boil over butter tarts." They have mislaid their copy. Marjorey Dwornick misses the Shanghai restaurant, the Chinatown fixture that closed in 2011, and hopes someone might know how to make their golden dragon meatballs. This is also a good time of year for classic recipes using kitchen gadgets like ice cream makers or slow cookers that people might have received as gifts -- or maybe bought for themselves -- over the holiday.

If you can help with a recipe request, have your own request, or a favourite recipe you'd like to share, send an email to recipeswap@freepress.mb.ca, fax it to 697-7412, or write to Recipe Swap, c/o Alison Gillmor, Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6. Please include your first and last name, address and telephone number.

Minestrone soup

60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

325 ml (1 1/3 cups) coarsely chopped onion

375 ml (1 1/2 cups) coarsely chopped celery

1 x 156 ml (5 1/2 oz) can tomato paste

15 ml (1 tbsp) chopped fresh parsley

250 ml (1 cup) sliced carrots

1 L (about 4 3/4 cups or 1 small head) shredded cabbage

1x 540 ml (19 oz) can diced tomatoes, with juices

1 x 540 ml (19 oz) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

375 ml (1 1/2 cups) frozen peas

375 ml (1 1/2 cups) fresh green beans, chopped

2.5 L (11 cups) water

500 ml (2 cups) uncooked broken spaghetti or 250-500 ml (1-2 cups) small pasta shells

Salt and pepper to taste

In large (3.6 litre or 4 quart) pot, heat oil. Add garlic, onions and celery and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients except pasta and stir until ingredients are mixed. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add spaghetti or pasta and simmer until cooked (about 6-8 minutes, depending on size of pasta). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Tester's notes: A hearty but healthy soup that makes a perfect January dinner. I originally thought I should use stock in place of some of the water, but the vegetables brought in lots of flavour. Marcy uses a package of cole slaw mix instead of chopping cabbage, a quick trick if you're in a hurry, and advises adjusting the amount of pasta to how thick you want the soup. (I went to an almost stew-like extreme with lots of shell pasta.)

Oat bran muffins with golden raisins

500 ml (2 cups) all-purpose flour

175 ml (3/4 cup) oat bran

60 ml (1 /4 cup) granulated sugar

10 ml (2 tsp) baking powder

3 ml (3/4 tsp) baking soda

5 ml (1 tsp) salt

2 ml (1/2 tsp) cinnamon

250 ml (1 cup) buttermilk, well-shaken

75 ml (1/3 cup) honey

60 ml (57 g or 1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

2 eggs

250 ml (1 cup) golden raisins

Preheat oven to 190 C (375 F). Butter a standard 12-muffin tin. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oat bran, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, honey, butter and eggs. Add to dry ingredients along with raisins and stir until just combined. (Do not overbeat or muffins will be tough.) Divide batter among 12 muffin cups. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in centre comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, let sit 2 minutes and then turn out onto a rack to cool completely. Makes 12. (Adapted from Gourmet magazine.)

Tester's notes: These muffins use oat bran rather than the more common wheat bran. Oat bran is moister, with a mild, slightly nutty flavour that blends well with the honey and raisins (or any combo of dried fruit and nuts that you might want to use).

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 9, 2013 D5

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