The first two weeks of the New Year have yielded historic snowfalls in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Here in Breckenridge, it's snowed almost every day, and shoveling the sidewalk has become a challenge as I try to toss each shovelful over the huge pile I've created on either side of the walk. It sure is great exercise, though!
Much of our country has been brought to a standstill at one time or another this month because of ice and snowstorms, and that can make trips to the supermarket difficult or even impossible. While I have a four-wheel drive vehicle, I prefer to stay off icy roads, rather than risk an accident on my way to or from the market. Thankfully, as winter approaches, I always stock my pantry and refrigerator with essential ingredients that will enable me to create healthy, flavorful meals no matter what Mother Nature has in store.
A few days ago, during another heavy snowfall, I craved a hearty bowl of soup – something healthy, hearty, flavorful, and preferably vegetarian. I knew I had celery, carrots, onion, and fresh baby spinach in my refrigerator crisper drawer, and a quick glance in the pantry yielded canned white beans and a large container of vegetable broth. Within minutes, I had chopped the veggies, and as they sautéed and their aroma filled my kitchen, the comfort soup evokes was already making me smile in anticipation.
I’m delighted to share the recipe I created this week for Winter White Bean Soup. This flavorful pantry-to-stovetop soup, featuring creamy white beans and tender vegetables served over a bed of fresh spinach, is a real lifesaver on a cold, wintry day. Enjoy!
Winter White Bean Soup
|2||tablespoons olive oil|
|2||cups carrots, rinsed, peeled and sliced to 1/4-inch thickness|
|1 1/2||cups sweet onion, chopped|
|1 1/2||cups celery, rinsed and sliced to 1/4-inch thickness|
|3||cloves garlic, peeled and chopped finely|
|4||cups prepared vegetable broth|
|2||sprigs fresh thyme, leaves and stems|
|Freshly ground black pepper, to taste|
|2||15-ounce cans cannellini or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained|
|1||bunch fresh spinach, rinsed and dried|
Preheat a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, add oil, and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add carrots, onion and celery, and sauté 10 minutes or until the vegetables are starting to soften. Stir in garlic and sauté 1 minute more.
Add vegetable broth, water, thyme, bay leaf and black pepper, stir, cover the pot, and raise the heat to high. When the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently 1 hour, or until the vegetables are knife-tender. Stir in the beans, and heat until they are cooked through.
Place a small handful of fresh spinach in the bottom of each soup bowl, ladle in the hot soup, and serve.
Cook’s Note: For a richer flavor, simmer the soup (minus the beans) for several hours, stirring occasionally. Shortly before serving, add the beans, heat until they are cooked through, and serve as above.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings