Hearty Soup with Beans and Greens

Autumn, soups and stews, Vegan, vegetarian, Winter


I’ve been in a less-than-charming mood for the last couple of weeks and as The Skeptic pointed out, it appears to be an acute case of ‘November in Boston’. I know it’s trite to complain about the season so I’ll tell you what I’ve been enjoying now that the charm of the fall has… well, fallen.

Things that can be made in a slowcooker: I have the most wonderful little Rival brand crockpot, purchased for just $19.99 a few years ago at The Home Depot. Best 20 bucks I ever spent. In it, I make recipes from this unsung gem of a cookbook, Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker.

Salads with Warm Ingredients: such as this recently posted, Warm Goat Cheese Salad and this delicious Beet and Roasted Onion Salad, that is really a meal in itself.

Baking Breads, such as this one has made it’s annual comeback in my kitchen. Don’t forget to check your yeast’s expiration date if you haven’t used it in a while.

Movies that make New England winters look charming, and at the very top of that list will always be, Beautiful Girls (that’s a link to one of the scenes that makes the movie so great).

aaaannnd SOUP!!

Hurray for soup! This recipe, adapted from the November issue of Bon Appetit, is healthy, hearty and flexible. Embellish, substitute, puree half, or leave it all chunky, it gets even better after a day or two and you can make the croutons ahead and  leave them in a sealed tupperware out of the fridge.

Kale and Cannellini (Chard and Kidney Bean) Soup, heavily adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2010

When I got to the supermarket with my soup-shopping list last Thursday I was dismayed to find that they had neither lacinato kale, nor dried cannellini beans. So, after wandering around the store for a few minutes, wondering if I should abandon the project all together,  I decided to use chard and kidney beans. In the end, I deviated from the original recipe quite a bit and was perfectly happy with the outcome.

1 Tbs olive oil

1 medium carrot chopped

chard stems from 2 large bunches, chopped (see below)

2 cups water

2 cups vegetable broth

3 1/3 cups cooked kidney beans (I do this by soaking the dried kidney beans in cold water overnight, then putting them into my slow cooked with fresh water and a bay leaf and cooking on low all day)

1 – 15 oz can diced tomatoes

3 Tbs hard sheep’s milk cheese (you can also use parmesan), optional

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

2 large bunches of rainbow chard (washed well), stems removed and chopped separately, leaves halved and cut into ribbons

8 – 1/2 inch slices of baguette, toasted

additional olive oil, salt and pepper

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add carrot and onion and sautee until the start to soften (about 5-7 minutes). Add the chard stems and saute a bit longer. Next add tomatoes, garlic and seasoning and bring to a low simmer. Add cooked beans, water, broth and cheese and simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes. Add chard ribbons and simmer, covered for another 10 – 15 minutes.

While soup is simmering, slice up your baguette. I cut my slices into squared to make soup croutons, but if you would rather top your soup with a mini-toast, that’s fine too. Toss baguette slices/cubes with a few tablespoons of olive oil and some salt and pepper and spread onto a baking sheet. Toast for 7 or 8 minutes, at 375, until they are golden and crunchy.

Puree 2 cups of soup in a blender and return to pot (optional).

Ladle soup into bowls and top with croutons and additional cheese.

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