Just like everyone, I have a lot going on in my life and I can’t ALWAYS cook. I saw this recipe on Bare Foot Contessa and since I’m a fan of loading up my soup with veggies, this one was perfect! I load mine up with more veggies than she does but it’s all up to you how much you want to use.
This soup is one of those delightful meals that you can make ahead and freeze until when you really need it. It freezes so well that if you don’t say anything, your family or friends won’t even know it was frozen. Plus, it has so many kinds of veggies that it picks me up when I’m super tired.
Ingredients: Serves 8-10 big bowls
1/2 pound dried white beans, such as Great Northern or cannellini (or 2 cans of beans)
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/4 pound smoked bacon – diced
3 cups yellow onions (2 medium onions) – chopped
2 cups carrots (4-5 carrots) – chopped
1 1/2 cups celery (4 stalks) – chopped
3 tablespoons garlic (6 large cloves) – minced
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes in puree – chopped
Whole savoy cabbage – coarsely chopped (it’s a lot, but wilt down to very little)
1 bunch of kale – coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh basil leaves – chopped
6 cups chicken stock
4 cups sourdough bread cubes, crusts removed (if you’re planning to freeze your soup, do not add bread just yet)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan – for serving
*Skip this step if using canned beans
If using dry beans: In a large bowl, cover the beans with cold water by 1-inch and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to soak overnight in the refrigerator.
Drain the beans and place them in a large pot with 8 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes, until the beans are tender. Set the beans aside to cool in their liquid.
Heat the oil in a large stockpot. Add the bacon and onions and cook over medium-low heat for 7 to 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.
Add carrots, celery, garlic, 1 tablespoon of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium-low heat for 7 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add the entire can of tomatoes with their puree, cabbage, kale, basil and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for another 7 to 10 minutes.
If using dry beans: Drain the beans, reserving their cooking liquid.
If using canned beans: Drain the beans from the can, rinse the beans to remove starch
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree half of the beans with a little of their liquid (or water) – this adds thickness to the soup. Add to the pot, along with the remaining whole beans. Pour the bean cooking liquid or water into a large measuring cup and add enough chicken stock to make 8 cups. Add to the soup and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
*If you’re planning on freezing the soup, set whatever portion you’re planning on eating now aside and add bread just to that portion
Add the bread to the soup and simmer for 10 more minutes. Taste for seasoning and serve hot in large bowls sprinkled with Parmesan
Don’t worry if you’re like me and didn’t think ahead to soak the beans in water overnight! I just used 2 cans of Great Northern and they worked GREAT.