While I can't say I'm enjoying these unseasonably cold temperatures, at least this enduring grip of winter means a prolonging of soup weather. I'm working hard to clear the freezer of all the soups and stews and other stick-to-your-bones fare, and these rescued meals are keeping me cozy and fed. The final portion of Stewed Cauliflower, Butternut Squash, and Tomatoes was part of my end-of-winter purge, appropriately transforming into this belly-filling bowl of soup.
The time invested prepping and slowly cooking those hearty vegetables is again clearly returned in this recipe with many elements of intense flavor come together quickly. The stewed vegetables bring a perfect balance of deep flavor and vinegary pop and the hearty helping of beans making it a satisfying meal. A sprinkling of croutons across the top start as a toasty, crispy bits, slowly disintegrating as they soak up the broth and meld into each thick, rich bite. A scant sprinkling of good Parmesan across the top creates a deep savoriness, gingerly bringing the perfect amount of umami to this vegetarian meal. (For the carnivores and hedonists out there, a bit of crumbled bacon would not be unwelcome as well.)
I've almost at the end of my rope when it comes to cold weather eating, but with such a meager time investment, I was absolutely delighted to chow down on this collection of diverse flavors - the perfect antidote to end-of-winter dinner fatigue.
Fall Vegetable Soup with White Beans
adapted from Serve Yourself by Joe Yonan
1 slice sourdough or rustic whole grain bread or roll, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock or water, plus more if needed
1/2 cup cooked white beans, preferably homemade, drained and rinsed
Leaves from 3 or 4 sprigs thyme
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Put the bread cubes on a small baking sheet, drizzle with the oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Arrange in a single layer and toast in the oven for 5 to 6 minutes, until very crisp and golden brown, watching closely to avoid burning them. Use tongs to turn over the bread cubes and toast for another 5 to 6 minutes to create evenly browned croutons. Remove from the oven.
3. Combine the stewed vegetables and stock in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until hot, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the white beans and cook for a few minutes until heated through. Add more water if you want a thinner texture. Stir in the thyme. Taste and add salt and pepper, if desired.
5. Pour the soup into a bowl, add the croutons, sprinkle with the cheese, and eat.