I used to be super intimidated by people who could make their own really good soup. Now that I like to, and frequently do, make soup at home, I’m not entirely sure that I had anything to base that intimidation on at all. Soup is EASY! “Easy as pie” is a silly expression, because it is not hard at all to mess up pie. But “easy as soup” would make so much more sense! You simply cannot mess up soup.
The night I made this belly-filling and -warming, flavorful Tuscan bean soup, I was planning to make a lighter meal. It was warm out and soup didn’t seem like the logical choice. But when I informed my daughter that morning that her dad wasn’t feeling well, so we needed to be quiet getting ready to let him continue to rest, she immediately stated, without missing a beat, that “we should make him soup because it will make him feel a little better.” Can’t say no to that. So I searched my catalogs for an interesting new soup to try, looking for lots of veggies and other goodies to fill up our tummies and heal the evil cold. And I found this one. Quick? Yep. Hearty and healthy? Yessir. Savory and scrumptious, too? Yes! Let’s go!
WHAT YOU NEED
* 2T olive oil
* 1 sm-med onion, diced
* 2 med carrots, diced (I knew I had baby carrots at home, so I decided to use those. I estimated that 6-8 baby carrots, depending on their size, equal one medium-sized regular carrot)
* 2 stalks of celery, diced
* 1 medium zucchini, diced
* 1 yellow summer squash, diced (I couldn’t find good-enough looking yellow squash this time of year, so I just used two zucchinis)
* 4 cloves garlic, pressed (I probably used more than 4… I always use more)
* 1/4t crushed red pepper flakes
* 1/4t dried thyme
* 1/4t dried rosemary
* 4-6C vegetable or chicken broth (I used chicken because I had it already, plus, you know, Jewish mother + a cold + chicken soup = no brainer)
* 2 14oz cans Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
* 1 14oz can diced tomatoes, no salt added, with juices
* 3C chopped kale, ribs removed
* 2t salt
* 1t pepper
* 1T white sugar
* 1T white wine vinegar (I thought I had this, but it turned out I did not, so I just used regular distilled white vinegar)
* shaved parmesan to garnish, optional
* some crusty bread to gnaw on the side (is bread ever *optional*?? I say no.)
WHAT TO DO
Heat about 2T of olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat, then add the diced onions, carrots, celery, zucchini, and squash (if you have it), and stir a bit for about 4-5 minutes or so, to let them start to soften up.
Stir in the garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, thyme, and rosemary, and cook for just about a minute or so.
Now add the broth, beans, and tomatoes. Note about the broth: the original recipe says to use 4 cups. But I find with most soups that include lots of *stuff* in them, that the liquid is almost always overpowered by the *stuff* and you end up with an unbalanced ratio of stuff : liquid. So I say add a little extra liquid. I did not add extra when I made this, and sure enough… leftover pot is top-heavy with stuff.
Back to the recipe… Bring to a boil, and then turn the heat down to low and add the chopped kale. Cover the pot and simmer for 20ish minutes. (Original recipe says 15, but I went a little long to give the kale some more cook time.)
Another deviation from the original. At this point, the original recipe calls for using an immersion blender to partially puree the soup (just partially – you want some chunks). I do not have an immersion blender. I thought about pulling out half or so and blending it in a regular old blender, but mostly in the interest of time, I decided to just let it be a chunky vegetable soup. Either way the flavors are going to pop, so you can’t go wrong. When I eventually get an immersion blender, I will definitely try it according to the original instructions and see what difference that makes in the final outcome. But having skipped this step entirely, I assure you it will be okay — you’re going to love it.
Finally, add the salt, pepper, sugar, and vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasonings if you need to. Serve hot with a side of bread and topped with shaved parmesan.
Enjoy and feel better!