Someone once did a study, comparing the filling quality of salad and soups. The same vegetables used in a salad were made into a soup, and the study participants were asked, once they finished eating, which was the more filling. Those who ate salad asked when the next course would come. Those who ate soup felt filled up and asked for nothing more.
You can make soup as a first course, which will fill you up enough to restrain you when you eat the main course, or, you can make a soup as an entire meal. One favorable quality of making soup is that one an use up ingredients that you might otherwise throw away. A half an onion, a piece of zucchini, old bread, a piece of celery, etc, can all be thrown into the soup pot with wonderful results. You need neither my advice nor that of Martha Stewart’s on this count, as it goes without saying that soup is especially welcome in the winter months.
One of my favorite soups is Ribollita. This soups uses all the vegetables in your vegetable drawer, the beans in your pantry and the stale bread on your counter. It is a meal that contain almost all the food groups.
You can use canned beans but I think canned beans are too mushy to use in this soup. I prefer to soak dry beans in water for several hours and then boil them in the broth.
Saute the onion, the celery and the carrot for few minutes. Add the cannellini beans, water, bay leaves, sage and couple cloves of garlic. Bring to boil. Cover and cook over medium heat for 45mins to about 1 hour or until the beans are cooked but still firm.
Add the diced tomatoes, the tomato paste, basil, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Adjust the seasoning and add the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables, bring to a boil and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.
Cut your stale bread into 1 inch cubes. Add the bread cubes to the soup and mix gently.
Place about 1/2 teaspoon of hot pepper flakes in 1/4 cup olive oil. When you ready to serve. Spoon the soup into bowl, drizzle with the hot oil and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and savor.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 cups cannellini beans, soaked in water four hours
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 zucchini, diced into 1-inch cubes
- 2 cups chopped cabbage
- 2 cups chopped Swiss chard
- 1 32 ounce diced tomatoes
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon sage
- 1 teaspoon basil
- ½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
- Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy stew pot. Add the onion, the celery and the carrots. Saute over medium heat. Once the vegetables are soft, add the beans and 12 cups of water. Bring to boil and cook for 40 minutes or until the beans are tender but firm.
- Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, sage, bay leaf, basil, salt and pepper. Bring to boil. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Taste the stew and adjust the seasoning.
- Add the potatoes and cook for five minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables, stir, cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.
- Place the hot chili flakes in the rest of the olive oil. I have hot olive oil bowl on my kitchen table all the time.
- Take the soup off the heat and add the bread. Stir gently and allow the bread to be moisten.
- Spoon the soup into serving bowl. drizzle with hot oil and grated Parmesan cheese.