Hello Murungai Keerai Barley Minestrone Soup. Do you wonder how moringa leaves, also called murungai keerai, found their way into my hearty Italian stew? The truth is, I am always looking for new ways to incorporate beautiful, nutritious plants into my cuisine. In this case, I was helped by a chat with a special garden friend.
Is Moringa a superfood herb or tree?
Moringa began showing up in the media a couple of years ago as the new superfood. So a discussion popped up at the community garden with a few members as to how we could establish some moringa trees.
Moringa oliefera by its Latin name is both a powdered superfood in capsules and a fast-growing tree with attractive leaves and flowers. However, this plant known by different names is much more. Every part of moringa trees has been used for centuries.
Not only are the leaves and flowers edible, but moringa trees provide nutritious food with their young, green seed pods, called drumsticks in many parts of the world.
So, knowing all this you can imagine why we wanted to establish the superfood plant talked about in the news. If you would like to learn more, here is a very interesting link to start with from UC Davis.
Well, here's the funny part. It turns out we had several moringas already growing in the garden. I have to laugh at my own ignorance and that of a few other haole garden friends.
You see, we had some trees on the property that had been pruned many times over the years. Because we had become accustomed to seeing them, we never dreamed they were the "Tree of Life" talked about in the news.
Moringa has many names
So, I left you dangling on my chat with auntie. Allow me to explain. Once I knew we had the trees, I asked her if she knew what an amazing superfood moringa trees provide.
She laughed and said; "Well if you mean, why do we add marungay to the soup for our guys when they return ravenous from a morning's hard work, then yes."
She elaborated further on how she has been eating moringa since being a child. In her Hawaiian family, it has been highly valued for as long as she can remember.
The majority of garden members who had grown up eating moringa knew moringa soup by the name malunggay soup and our Indian friends called the leaves murungai keerai.
You are going to be amazed at how simple it is to incorporate fresh moringa leaves in my nutritious bean and barley minestrone. It really is as straightforward as one, two, three.
Cooking murungai keerai in soup
- Wash and shake dry fresh moringa leaves on the branch.
- Pluck individual leaves from their stems.
- Toss the murungai keerai into minestrone in the last ten minutes of cooking along with broccoli. Just like broccoli florets, moringa leaves quickly soften and soak up all the marvelous flavors of a stew.
Then toss the murungai keerai into the minestrone in the last ten minutes of cooking along with broccoli. Just like the broccoli florets, they quickly soften and soak up all the marvelous flavors of the stew.
Can I make it without moringa?
Yes. You can substitute fresh, sliced spinach leaves for moringa leaves. It won't have the special properties of marungay soup, but it will be equally delicious.
- Barley - one cup of cooked short grain brown rice
- Vine ripe tomatoes - one 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
- Olive oil - substitute vegetable oil or leave out.
- Fresh corn - frozen corn.
- Kidney beans - other cooked red or pink beans
- Broccoli - tender fresh green beans
- Vegetable broth - 6 cups water plus 3 vegetable bouillion cubes
More Healthy Italian Recipes
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Murungai Keerai Minestrone Soup
- ⅓ cup uncooked pearled barley
- 2 cups water
- 1 tsp. olive oil, optional
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 cup diced carrots
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 6 cups well seasoned vegetable broth
- 2 cups diced vine ripe tomatoes
- ½ cup fresh corn from the cob
- 1 ½ cups cooked kidney beans
- 1 cup coarsely chopped white cabbage
- 2 large sage leaves
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 small bay leaves
Finish with Moringa Leaves
- 2 cups fresh moringa leaves, stems removed or substitute chopped fresh spinach
- ½ cup broccoli
- Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add barley, reduce heat and cook 35 minutes or until tender.
- While barley cooks, chop vegetables and gather seasonings.
- Heat olive oil in a large soup pot. Add celery, onion, and carrot. Saute until the onion begins to soften and brown. Alternatively, pan roast vegetables with a couple of tablespoons of water.
- Add salt and garlic. Stir and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add to soup pot: Vegetable broth, diced tomatoes with juice, corn, beans, cabbage, sage, thyme, bay leaves, and cooked barley with its cooking water. Boil over low heat for 15 minutes.
Finish with Moringa Leaves
- Add moringa leaf and cook another 10 minutes. Finally, add broccoli and turn heat off. Let soup sit on burner for 5 minutes.
- Remove bay and sage leaves, and thyme sprigs from soup. Serve with vegan parmesan if desired.