An assortment of pulses spread out on a table

By Nettie Cronish
Culinary Instructor, Cookbook Author

Beans, peas and lentils are highly nutritious and endlessly versatile. High in protein, fibre, and starch and low in fat. They are an excellent source of iron, B vitamins, potassium, riboflavin, niacin and folic acid. When sprouted, they have the added bonus of Vitamin C. Choose dried beans that are bright in colour and uniform in size and shape. I store my dried beans for up to a year in airtight containers in a cool, dark place. Cooked beans may be frozen in sealed packaging for up to 6 months.

In my diet, pulses have been an alternative to costly animal protein and have deep roots in the cuisines of Asia, Central and South America, and the Mediterranean. You can combine several types of beans to prepare the bean chili (chickpeas, red kidney, and pinto beans). They also work great great in combination. You can fine them dry, canned or frozen.

To celebrate Global Pulse Day, I will be cooking and eating a vegetarian Minestrone in which I have chosen to use the Adzuki bean. These small, maroon coloured beans are the size of a large peppercorn. Japanese in origin, they are used in so many ways. In Japan, they are used in candied desserts and as a base for hot beverages. In my recipe, they are the perfect complement to whole grain pasta, vegetables and cheese.

Tofu Minestrone

Tofu Minestrone

4 Person(s)
Preparation time
0 min
Cooking time
0 min



  • 12 cups (3L) no-salt-added vegetable broth or water, divided
  • 1 leek, diced (white and pale green parts only)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 28 oz (795 mL) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) dried basil
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) dried oregano
  • 1 cup (250 mL) whole grain rotini
  • 1/2 lb (225 g) firm tofu, crumbled
  • 14 oz (410 mL) can no-salt added aduki beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped fresh basil
  • 3/4 tsp (4 mL) sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups (500 mL) baby kale, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) grated Asiago cheese


  1. In large pot, heat 1 cup (250 mL) of the broth over medium heat. Add leeks and cook for 5 minutes or until softened.
  2. Add garlic, carrot, celery, tomatoes, basil, oregano and remaining broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add pasta; cook until tender, 10–12 minutes or according to package directions.
  4. Stir in tofu, beans, basil, salt, cayenne and kale. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Serve and sprinkle each serving with Asiago cheese.

Recipe notes

Tofu can be easily crumbled, and it does a fantastic job of absorbing the flavours of your soup broth. We use 12 cups of stock in this recipe because we cook the pasta in the pot, and it absorbs lots of liquid as it cooks. You can use an assortment of different greens in this soup—we used kale, but spinach, chard or collards would work equally well. —Nettie

Tip: Asiago is a strong-flavoured hard cheese, similar to Parmesan or Romano. You can use any of them interchangeably in this recipe.

Nutrients Per Serving

Serving Size: 1O cups (425 ml) soup
221 calories, 6 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 500 mg sodium, 33 g carbohydrates, 6 g fibre, 8 g sugars, 13 g protein. Very high in fibre. Good source of vitamin A, folate, vitamin C, calcium and iron.