Our dietitian shares her favorite recipe for a comforting winter soup.
During college, I studied and lived in Florence, Italy, for 6 months. Being a Southern girl, I was not prepared for the cold, January temperatures. I was quickly introduced to this classic, peasant dish prepared in Tuscan family kitchens as a way to use up stale bread and warm tummies during the cold winter. It quickly became a comforting favorite I relied heavily on to warm both my stomach and my heart while I was away from home.
This soup is filled with vegetables, providing a hefty dose of Vitamins A and C, fiber, and low fat protein from the Cannellini beans. You can adjust the recipe to use whatever vegetables you have on hand, like parsnips, fennel, or fresh tomatoes. Tuscan bread is typically baked in a wood-fired oven, giving it a hard and crunchy crust with a bland, unsalted interior. If you can’t find an actual Tuscan loaf, use a hard rustic bread loaf and reduce the salt added to your soup if the bread itself is salty. If your bread is fresh, stale it by placing the slices in a warm 200°F oven until it becomes dry but not toasted. Extra soup can be frozen without the bread for later use.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large red onion, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 4 medium zucchini, diced
- Hot water
- 1 bunch kale, roughly chopped
- 1 bunch Swiss chard, roughly chopped
- 4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 (15 ounce) cans Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup no-salt-added tomato paste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 16 oz loaf 2-day-old Tuscan bread
- Extra-virgin olive oil, optional
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrots, and zucchini; cook vegetables, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and the carrots are tender.
- Add hot water to the pot to cover vegetables; add kale, Swiss chard, and potatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer over medium heat for 1 hour.
- Puree one can of beans in a blender or food processor; add pureed beans and remaining can of whole beans to pot. Simmer for an additional 20 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent beans from sticking. Stir in tomato paste and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Spray a large casserole dish or Dutch oven with non-stick cooking spray. Scoop about one-fourth of soup into bottom of dish; top with a layer of bread slices. Continue alternating layers of bread and soup, ending with a layer of soup on top, until all soup has been used.
- Refrigerate soup for 1 day.
- Remove desired amount of soup from dish, and heat by “reboiling” the soup on the stovetop, or in the oven. Scoop portions into serving bowls, and top each serving with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, if desired.
Nutrition Information* (per serving): Calories: 190, Total Fat: 2 g, Saturated Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 272 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 37 g, Dietary Fiber: 5 g, Sugars: 4 g, Protein: 8 g
*Nutrition information is for 1 serving without optional extra-virgin olive oil and uses estimated 1 t salt and ¾ t black pepper.
Check out eMeals’ vegetarian plan for more delicious recipes like this.
Image reprinted with permission from www.theinventivevegetarian.blogspot.com and www.healthyaperture.com.