One of our favorite winter meals is homemade soup. It’s so easy that it’s hard to imagine buying soup in a can. This recipe is a variation on one soup we love, a white bean and pasta soup. Virtually any combination of vegetables will do. Broth isn’t really necessary with a bean soup, just salt the water to taste (it takes more than you might think, but the sodium content will still be much lower than with processed soups). And this is vegetarian.
One bag of white beans
1/2 lb elbow macaroni or other shaped pasta
1 large parsnip
crushed tomato (about 10-12 oz)
grated parmesan cheese
baby salad greens, spinach, or lettuce
Soak a bag of white beans in water over night (or in this case, I started the soak in the morning and cooked it all up in the afternoon). 6-8 hours later, drain beans and then cover with plenty of water again. Bring to a boil, then simmer for an hour or hour and a half. After half an hour or so, clean and slice the leek. (To clean, cut lengthwise down the middle and then rinse out the dirt. To slice, cut crosswise in relatively thin slices. I use all the leek unless the tops are too dry.) Sautée in a little olive oil as you cut the parsnip and carrots into relatively small pieces. Add to sautéing leek. Once the vegetables are hot and starting too cook, add to the simmering beans. Cut mushroom and add to soup with black olives and tomato. Add water as needed and continue to simmer. When about 20 minutes remain, add 8 oz. dry elbow macaroni and let cook with the soup.
Rinse your greens and spin dry. Any hardy lettuce would do, though I had some organic baby spring salad mix on hand, so I used that. If the lettuce is big, you may want to tear it into smaller pieces. Otherwise, place a handful of lettuce in each bowl and then cover with hot soup. Ours was pretty thick, since the macaroni had soaked up much of the broth and the beans helped thicken it. Top with grated parmesan cheese and more lettuce if desired. The soup cooks the lettuce slightly, but some remains crisp. Of course, the soup is fine without the salad, but if you have some lettuce or salad mix you want to use, it’s a good combination.