Winter is season to start stocking the digestive fire and soup is the perfect answer. One of my familys favourite is this easy 5 step minestrone. Minestrone comes from the word minestre – which means soup and -onemeaning big. And it is – a big, hearty soup. Though what I love most about this Italian classic are the numerous variations that it can accommodate. Fantastic to use that assorted pile of veggies in your kitchen prior to your next fresh veg stock up. I have listed the many substitutes here so you can experiment and come up with your own family favourite, or keep it a dynamic surprise and use what?s available in your kitchen to add or subtract at your whim. The primary difference between this recipe and most variations is the absence of tomatoes. Whilst tomatoes do have endearing qualities, they are also contra-indicated for many conditions particularly arthritis and allergies/digestive ailments. So this version will allow you to enjoy the tradition, whilst being gentle on you joints and digestion. Minestrone Soup Ingredients: ? cup each of kidney, borlotti or chick pea and cannelini beans. (ideally soaked overnight, then cooked, it will greatly enhance the flavour to use fresh beans, however tinned are certainly a handy substitute). 2 inch piece of kombu seaweed 10 cups of water and/or home made stock (you may require more depending on your choice/quantity of veggies) 1 onion 2 cloves of garlic (more if desired) ? cup carrots ? cup sweet potato (can substitute with potato, ideally red potato) ? cup green beans or 1 medium leek ? cup zucchini (can substitute with tomato) 1 – 2 cups cabbage or kale 1 cup fresh or frozen peas ? – ? cup corn (fresh scraped from the cob) ? cup or 1 -2 pieces of celery 1 – 2 cups pasta or cooked leftover pasta (lemon myrtle pasta is yum) 4 -5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, or 1 – 2 teaspoons of umeboshi paste (from the health food store) 1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce (wheat free soy sauce) Herbs?1 bay leaf plus ? teaspoon each of oregano and thyme Parsley, chives, coriander or shallots to garnish Method: 1. Soak each bean separately overnight. Discard soak water. Cook beans, kombu and water in: – A large pot. Bring to the boil, simmer for 2 hours or more, remove any foam that accumulates on top of the water. – Or a pressure cooker, cook 50 minutes. 2. Add vegetables, and additional water/stock if required, simmer for 15 -30 minutes until cooked 3. Blend or mash a little – only if you prefer it ?creamy? or would like to ?hide? some of the veggies. 4. Add pasta simmer for 5 -10 minutes to cook 5. Add further seasoning of miso or sea salt and pepper if desired. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander or parsley and serve.