February 19, 2016
The Food Splurge...it starts each year in November as we celebrate my husband’s birthday. One dessert here, a great glass of wine there.
Then it’s Thanksgiving, and the holiday season is in full swing. There always seems to be something to toast! Then in January for one week, I ate my way through London. Okay, I’m not going to lie. I’ve overindulged! Upon return I wanted to eat clean and lean. What I was craving was one of my favorite soups that's light, satisfying and delicious. And by the way, it’s also quick, easy and oh so versatile.
This recipe is merely a base on which to build a soup. Use your favorite vegetable combination or whatever’s on-hand in your refrigerator. Substitute any stock flavor you’d like. Add your favorite garnishes and seasoning at the end. Anything goes!
Let’s get started. Every great soup starts with aromatics, a combination of vegetables and herbs, that when cooked in oil begin to soften and release their flavors and aroma into the dish. Commonly used to create a perfect harmony of flavor as a base for soups are onions, celery and carrots with the addition of herbs and spices. The ratio of these 3 ingredients is 2-1-1. That’s 2 parts onions, 1 part celery and 1 part carrot. It’s called a mirepoix, which is a foundation in classic French cooking.
For the purpose of soups, the vegetables should all be cut in a consistent small dice, to cook quickly and evenly. Once you get your mirepoix lightly sautéed, you add the stock, bring it to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are almost cooked through. Then add the remaining ingredients in stages. Stir and cook for another 5-8 minutes. You are shooting for vegetables that are JUST cooked, because this is what gives this soup a fresh flavor and texture.
Fresh Vegetable White Bean Soup
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups onions – small dice
- 1 cup celery – small dice
- 1 cup carrots – small dice
- 1 bay leaf
- 8 cups chicken stock – see note
- 1 cup diced tomatoes with their juices – see note
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup cannellini beans - drained
- 1 ½ cup broccoli florets
- 2 heaping cups spinach – rough chopped or use baby
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 6 tablespoons minced herbs (I used chives, parsley and dill)
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a 4-quart saucepan. First add onions and sauté for 1 minute, then add celery, carrots and bay leaf; cooking until the vegetables begin to soften about 5 minutes.
Add stock, stir and bring to a simmer, 5-8 minutes. Add tomatoes, cannellini beans, broccoli florets, salt and pepper, stir and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add spinach, herbs and minced garlic, simmer for another 5 minutes or until the vegetable are just cooked through.
To add more protein, or to make this recipe heartier chicken can be added; either shredded or diced.
Some delicious garnishes are grated parmesan cheese, lemon zest or a dollop of pesto, stirred in.
-It's no secret that using the best ingredients will produce the best final product.
Agreed? Now that we've got that covered we can move forward.
Whenever possible I will buy the freshest ingredients I can; and if I have homemade alternatives in the pantry or freezer, they're my first choice.
But we are all so busy and need to have choices for the sake of convenience.
-Making items from scratch, like stocks for instance, offer us control over flavor and the purity of our ingredients.
-In the winter months I rarely use fresh tomatoes, so the alternatives are canned. For this recipe I used canned petite diced tomatoes.
Make it easy on your self, prep the soup ingredients the night before.
Store each ingredient in a plastic bag. All bags will fit in a 1-gallon bag with zipper seal .
This is for two reasons:
1. It keeps all your ingredients together and neat.
2. This helps contain the aroma of the raw onions!
Homemade soup will be on the table in no time.
Loaves & Fishes Cookshop
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