Sunday, March 1, 2015

White Bean and Veggie Soup

White Bean and Veggie Soup
(with optional ham)
You may be thinking by now that I don't make much healthy food...while the last couple of weeks have been filled with treats and stress eating, this is the kind of cooking I do more regularly.  I keep cans of white beans on hand for times when I need to make something fast, but today I cooked up a pot of white beans that will serve for at least two recipes. This makes about 4 quarts of soup, enough for a big group or to have lunches or dinners most of the week for just lil' ol' me. It freezes well, so I'll probably pop some in the freezer for next week. 

For this recipe, you'll need:

  1. 3 cups cooked white beans (canned is OK if you rinse them). 
  2. (Optional) 6 oz diced smoked ham - you could add a piece of Parmesan rind if you want to keep it veggie, or smoked tofu to keep it vegan
  3. 1 medium onion (or 1/2 onion and one small leek - the leeks at the market today were beautiful, so that's what I used), diced
  4. about 4 medium carrots and 2-4 stalks of celery (I tend to go easy on celery so it doesn't overpower the other stuff)
  5. 1/2 cup white wine or 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  6. 1/2-1 tsp dried thyme or a sprig of rosemary, to taste
  7. 1 14-16 oz can diced tomatoes in juice, low-salt or no-salt preferred
  8. 4 cups veggie or chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
  9. 2 cups chopped greens (chard, kale, or grownup spinach - baby spinach is too soft)
  10. optional: parsley leaves and/or grated Parmesan, Asiago or Romano cheese for serving
First, prep your veggies. Wash them well, rinsing out any sand in the leek if you're using one, and finely chop the onion and the white and light green part of the leek. Save the dark green part for making broth. 

Dice the carrots and celery into pieces about the same size as your beans. You can peel the carrots if that's how you roll, but I stopped doing that long ago.

Put 1 Tbsp olive oil and the leeks and onion in a 5 qt or larger pot. Saute a couple of minutes until they start to soften, then add the carrots, celery and a pinch of salt and pepper. Saute another couple of minutes. Don't let them brown.

If using the ham, push the veggies aside and add 1/3 of the ham and 1 tsp oil to the side of the pot. If using smoked tofu or Parmesan rind, just toss them in. 

Saute the 2 oz of ham for a minute before stirring into the veggies. Set aside the rest of the ham to add toward the end - that way you'll have some of the flavor in the soup, but you'll still have flavorful pieces of ham in the finished product. It's such a bummer when you add it all at the beginning and the flavor all gets cooked out! 

Now add the white wine or vinegar - in a rare turn of events I didn't want to open a bottle tonight, so I put in the vinegar. Dry Vermouth would also be OK, but not that ghastly "cooking wine". Stir in and let evaporate for a minute or two. Add the thyme or rosemary and the tomatoes. 

Fill the tomato can with water and add that water to the pot, too. 

Add the beans to the pot (some of the pot liquid is OK to add if you cooked them, but not the liquid from a can) and bring to a low boil. Cook for 3-5 minutes.

Add the broth, bring back to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and let cook for 20-30 minutes.

Taste for seasoning (salt, pepper, thyme). It should be a little undersalted if you're adding the rest of the ham.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

Add the greens (I had some leftover cooked kale, so that's what I put today) and the rest of the ham. Simmer until the greens are cooked, 5-10 minutes.

That's it! If AH phase 1 or 2, serve with whatever you need to balance your meal. If AH phase 3, serve with whole meal bread or crackers. I'm going with whole grain crackers today, but I might whip up some biscuits later in the week. I busted out some of my nanna's pretty china for this photo, so I hope you like it!

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