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in the kitchen with: 101 cookbooks

by Grace Bonney

to say that i’m a fan of heidi swanson, her blog 101 cookbooks and her incredible food photography would be a massive understatement. i’ve been reading her beautiful food/recipe blog for years now and was thrilled when she agreed to share one of my favorite recipes from her book, super natural cooking. heidi’s spring minestrone soup is just what i’m craving right now, especially after an afternoon of eating french desserts with a good friend yesterday. after all that sugar, i could use something light and full of “green”. i hope you’ll enjoy heidi’s recipe (and photography) as much as i did. if you’re still looking for something sweet, our food writer kristina of three layer cake suggests heidi’s recipe for all-natural thin mint cookies. delicious. thanks to heidi for sharing her fantastic spring soup recipe with us- click here for the full recipe or just click “read more” below.

about heidi: based in san francisco, heidi swanson takes photographs, writes cookbooks, publishes websites, and sometimes (mostly in the past) helps to produce gatherings of interesting people (TED, TASTE3). her writing, projects, and photographs have been featured in publications such as food & wine magazine, the washington post, glamour, whole foods markets, saveur, fast company, and many more. her recipe journal, 101 cookbooks, won the 2005 people’s choice webby award for best personal web site. ten speed press recently published heidi’s super natural cooking– a cookbook inspired by whole foods and natural ingredients.

Spring Minestrone

(with brown rice)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup medium-grain brown basmati rice, rinsed
6 cups vegetable stock
1 cup sugar snap or snow peas, trimmed and cut in half diagonally
8 spears asparagus, trimmed and diagonally sliced into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup green peas, fresh or frozen (not canned)
Fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, then add the shallots and garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes until soft. Add the rice and cook, stirring for 1 minute, then add the stock and bring to a boil. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer until the rice is just tender, 35 to 45 minutes.

Add the sugar snap peas, asparagus, and green peas, and season with a few healthy pinches of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. The key to making this soup truly delicious, is getting the seasoning right, so if you need more salt, add some and taste again. Taste and adjust. Simmer for another 2 or 3 minutes and serve immediately; this way the vegetables stay crisp and bright.

Serves 4.

Why did you choose this recipe?:

This is the soup that you see on the cover of Super Natural Cooking, so it holds a special place in my heart. It tastes as vibrant as it looks, and I wait all year for Spring to come around so I can enjoy it again. The best part about the Spring Minestrone is the way it fills you up, but doesn’t make you feel sluggish. Translation: perfect for lunch. Also, you can tweak it in many different ways to keep things interesting. Some days I enjoy it with poached eggs on top, other days I’ll add a couple handfuls of edamame and a drizzle of sesame oil. I mention in the book that you might try swapping out the peas for shelled fava beans, and tossing a bit of freshly grated Parmesan lemon zest, and shredded basil on top. It’s an endlessly adaptable, simple soup that is hard to screw up.

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  • heidi + grace,

    thanks so much for this wonderful recipe! i can’t wait to try it — and am totally going to buy heidi’s book now, too. yum.

  • I’d better get to the store and get some asparagus before it stops appearing on the shelves… otherwise i’ll have to resort to the frozen greens. this soup looks delish!

  • this soup is Amazing – lots + lots of flavor with a very short list of ingredients. this is great reminder of what I should make for lunch this week!

  • i love heidi’s place. the photography is always stunning; it was (and continues to be) an inspiration for my (highly inferior) own.

    i have 2 bunches of fresh asparagus sitting in my fridge, and now i know what to do with them!

  • This is a great soup which I make often – so easy to put together and I love it that you can just use whatever is in season

    Heidi’s food looks great but it also pretty close to always turns out lovely too!

  • i just made this soup for my boyfriend who has the flu… it was perfect! he loved it! i added mushrooms (baby bellas) and added zest from one lemon and used half veggi broth and half miso broth… it was so yummy! i love that you can get what ever looks fresh from the farmers market and make this soup… it was a hit! thanks for posting!

  • Happy accidents of my own in the kitchen produce the real thing MARSHMELLOWS !! made with real marsh mellow and NO corn syrup.

    I happly brosed the internet looking for marshmellow recipes then discovered they no longer made from marshmellow but awful corn syrup! Yuck ! S after much invesitgation ad the help of my local Newseasons market wellness departmetn I sought out Marshmellow powder to make my REAL marshmellow candied treats
    that are far from the weiard conventional jet puffed funky things we thought were tasty. Until you read whats really in that little puff. To much my suprise theses things only took 30 minutes to make and you little littel ingredients and they did turn out silky creamy and suprisingly very comforting as the real thing.

    Here is how I made them
    1/2 a 32 0z jar of WHOLE UNFILTERED ORGANIC honey
    1/4 cup of agave syrup ORganic
    1 table spoon of organic maple syrup grade B 1/8 th cup of organic real marshmellw root powder
    Three packetts of Kosher gelitin

    I added the geliton to the oringinal intended version of this to see what I would end up with and surprisingly it turn out better than i thought. With out the Geliton it resembles silly putty still tastes good but doesnt give you the silky texture and light-ness to be desired. In a sauce pan I put the honey Avgave syrup and marshmellow root to boil for until al came to a hard ball stage. While the Honey mixture was boiling I let the gelitin bloom in a 1/2 cup of water. When the honey mixture was done I turned the burner off and then added the gelton mixture stiring with a spoon until it dissolved removing the pan from the burner careful I used a hand mixer to fluff my mallows and was surprised to get a better than store bought Marshmellow ! for flavor options I chose Organic Chocolate and organic Mint extract I blended this up until the mixture was so sticky and creamy I could no longer mix it. Then used coconut oil to greese my cookie sheet and spread the mixture out flat and let set over night then cut them out in the morning These were better than imagined Enjoy!
    *Note for mallow cream cook time can be reduced slightly

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