Seriously Simple: When it’s cold outside, turn to this comforting, colorful dish
Chock-full of red Swiss chard leaves, vibrant orange butternut squash nuggets and mahogany red bits of oil-marinated sun-dried tomatoes, this soup is soul-satisfying.
One of my favorites, this soup balances an exceptional lightness with the sturdy flavor of white beans. Red Swiss chard, butternut squash and sun-dried tomatoes add color and subtle texture to this savory soup.
I like to serve this along with a mixed seasonal green salad studded with apple nuggets, creamy goat cheese crumbles and toasted pine nuts, which adds its own distinctive toast flavor. For a complete meal, accompany with chunks of warm sourdough or French bread and fresh butter.
Winter White Bean Soup
Serves 6 to 8
- 1 cup (1/2 pound) Great Northern or other white beans
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large leeks, white part only, cleaned and finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 3/4 pound butternut squash, peeled and diced
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained, and thinly sliced
- 1 bunch red Swiss chard, leaves only
- 8 cups chicken stock
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Bay leaf
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup finely chopped mixed fresh herbs such as chives, thyme and parsley
- Fruity olive, to drizzle
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Soak beans overnight in cold water to generously cover; or do a quick soak by bringing them to boil in water to cover, boiling 2 minutes, covering, and letting stand 1 hour. Drain beans, reserving 2 cups soaking liquid.
2. In a large soup pot, heat oil, add leeks and saute over medium heat about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add carrots and saute another 3 minutes. Add squash, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and Swiss chard to soup pot. Cook about 3 minutes or until chard begins to wilt.
4. Add stock, salt and pepper and bay leaf. Partially cover and simmer about 1 hour, or until beans are tender. Remove bay leaf. With a hand blender, puree the soup, leaving some whole pieces of chard and squash.
5. Add salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and parsley. Taste for seasoning.
6. Serve soup garnished with herbs, olive oil drizzle and Parmesan cheese.
- Add 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cooked chestnuts for a hearty and interesting taste.
- The soup may be kept up to three days in the refrigerator.
(Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.)