Tonight, I was in the mood for vegetables. My diet lately hasn't included quite enough of them. My birthday weekend included a lot of great food: manicotti with bechamel sauce, my mom's delicious mac & cheese (with bacon!), cheesecake... cheese, in fact, has been a staple ingredient in my diet. Which would be fine if this were just been a recent trend; however it's been going on for quite some time now. Given my upcoming trip to Italy where cheese are pasta are sure to be abundant, I've decided to give my diet a bit of a revamp over the next couple of weeks left leading up to it. My focus will be on vegetables.
It's been a chilly and damp couple of days in the Northwest, so I started thinking earlier today that I wanted to make some sort of vegetable soup. I originally had thoughts of minestrone, but found some more interesting things through my online browsing. The soup I ended up with is based loosely on the Christmas Lima Bean Stew recipe from 101cookbooks.com. I adjusted based on what I had on hand as well as for the fact that I started cooking at 8pm tonight after a long day of travel and didn't have cooked beans or the energy to make celery salt (though that does sound like something fun to try later). My version came together in 30 minutes.
The resulting soup was just what I was looking for: healthy, hot, and packed with veggies. The perfect culinary close to my weekend. Here's what I did:
Garlicky Cannellini Bean Soup with Veggies
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
about 6 stalks celery, washed and diced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tsp. caraway seeds, crushed
14.5 oz. canned diced tomatoes
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
two handfuls of spinach leaves*
4 c. water
oily black olives, pitted and chopped
1 lemon, quartered
*If you've ever wondered if spinach freezes well, the answer is yes. I bought more than was humanly possible to eat a few weeks ago and rather than process it into pesto (my usual method of using up extra), I decided to try freezing it - two handfuls each went into 3 separate ziplock bags. No blanching, nothing tricky. I used the first bag in a frittata when my mom was in town a couple weeks ago with good results. Bag #2 went into my soup this evening.
Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and celery. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic, caraway, and a couple pinches sea salt. Cook about 10 minutes longer, until the vegetables are soft and beginning to caramelize.
Add tomatoes and water. Bring to a simmer. Add beans and spinach. Cook a few minutes until the beans are heated and the spinach is beginning to wilt. Taste and season with more salt if needed. Serve in individual bowls topped with olives and a generous squeeze of lemon juice.
1 year ago: the best part of The French Laundry
2 years ago: meat & mushrooms