Hello, hello! Happy Monday. It is really chucking down rain out here in Boston, so today is the perfect day for the soup I made yesterday! I had a very good relaxing/restive weekend, and I hope you guys did too. I made my return to the yoga studio after long runs/half marathon training and my cross-training classes at the gym sucked up most of my free time this fall. The chill is in the air outside (bye summer!), and that heated studio and my mat were calling my name. And man, I am so glad I did! I am facing my week feeling very zen. After feeling very warm and melty on the inside after savasana, I wanted something just as warming to eat last night. So, I made this soup, with white beans, leeks, red potatoes, Swiss chard, carrots, a whole bunch of fresh herbs and a little bit of pesto for pop. And damn, was it good! It was a little bit like a unique form of torture waiting for it to be ready and smelling the herbs and vegetables melding and harmonizing together in steamy cloud in my kitchen. Last night I felt like I was in a cartoon with those wavy lines coming off the pot and me, with my nose leading, following them into the kitchen. YUM. Lucky for me, from start to finish, this soup probably only takes about 45 minutes to make (depending on how fast of a chopper you are!) – the simmer time is only 10 – 15 minutes. The best part (there always is a pretty solid “best part” on B&B, I assure you) is that one large serving is only about ~200 calories. YES! You can still fit into your skinny jeans the next day (or, whatever adorbs outfit you’re feeling). 😉 The second best part is that the taste-to-difficulty ratio is low: you basically chop some veggies, stick ’em in a pot and BOOM: amazing, healthy and immensely satisfying meal (especially on a cold, rainy day with horrid traffic like today).
Warming White Bean and Pesto Soup – serve with a delicious piece of crusty bread and voila – perfect soothing, warm meal for a chilly and rainy day!
Warming White Bean and Pesto Soup
- 1.5 cans (16 oz) Cannelini beans, rinsed
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 – 2 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 large leek, washed and sliced*
- 3 large carrots, washed and sliced (I don’t bother peeling, whatev)
- 1 lb red potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into 1/2″ pieces
- 3 (packed) cups rainbow chard, washed and chopped
- 2 containers of veggie broth (32 oz each – 8 cups in total)
- A bunch of fresh herbs: ~ 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, 1/2 Tbsp thyme, 8 – 10 sage leaves, chopped**
- 2 (heaping) Tbsp pesto***
*Leeks are super tasty but a pain in the ass to clean. I fill a large bowl with tap water, and as I chop, I throw the chopped pieces of leek into the bowl of water and swirl/rub to remove the dirt and grit. You def do not want that in your soup! Once they are cleaned off (they float!), I simply scoop them out of the bowl and gave them a good shake to remove excess water. It doesn’t really matter if they aren’t super dry because they are headed straight for that soup pot.
**I bought a pack of “poultry blend” fresh herbs at the grocery store and it contained rosemary, thyme and sage. I figured that would pair well with these ingredients, and it did! Use whatever you like – parsley, dill, whatever your fave is. I really liked this combo in the soup, so I would definitely try it out if I were you.
***You can use your own homemade pesto, store bought if you’re in a time crunch, or follow my recipe for pesto (there’s a vegan AND vegetarian version!) below. Whatever works for you. 🙂
Step One: Prep all your veggies first, that way, all you do is dump them in when it’s “Go Time”.
I set two bowls up while I was chopping: one large and one small. Into the small, I put the chopped onion, leek and minced garlic (which I ended up just dumping straight into my saucepan once the oil was heated up – so easy!). In the large, I put the potato, carrot, Swiss chard and herbs (the beans were draining in a colander after rinsing) – this one I also just up-ended straight into the saucepan once the broth was simmering. Makes life just a little easier to have all your veggies in one place.
Step Two: Once all your veggies are ready to go, heat ~1 Tbsp olive oil and saute the onion, leek and garlic in a large saucepan.
I’m aware this picture kind of sucks, but there was so much steam coming off the onion/leek/garlic mixture it was hard to get a good one! Saute for a few minutes, or until the onions are starting to become translucent.
Step Three: After about 5 – 6 minutes of saute time, add one box of the broth (32 oz or 4 cups), and bring to a simmer.
Make sure you get a nice, rolling bubble on that broth before you start adding veggies. It will cut down on the cooking time and you’ll get to eat this delicious soup faster.
Step Four: Add all your remaining veggies, beans, fresh herbs and enough veggie broth to cover them. The Swiss chard will cook down, but make sure there is enough liquid to submerge all your veggies (I used both boxes of veggie broth, but just in case your saucepan is a bit smaller than mine – add it gradually).
Just for a visual, that is about how much fresh herbs I added in total – almost a small handful. The more the merrier, it really adds great flavor to the soup.
Step Five: Season with salt and pepper to taste, cover and allow to simmer on low for 10 – 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender (aka you can easily insert a fork in them, but they are not so cooked that they are disintegrating into the broth).
Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper. Unless your broth is low-sodium, you probably can skip the salt altogether, so you don’t end up with salt overload and puffy eyes like I did today. 😛
Step Six: Swirl in pesto and enjoy! 😀
Soup sans pesto – it’s pretty damn delicious pesto-less. I ate a whole bowl plain first before I convinced myself it needed “something.”
Soup with pesto added – YUMMMM!!! The pesto gives it just a little bit of something special. 😉
So, not going to lie – I didn’t originally have plans to add pesto to this soup. But, it needed SOMETHING. The soup itself is wonderful with just the fresh herbs, it tastes fresh and light, but to give it a little somethin’ somethin’, I added the pesto for a flavor ka-POW. Pesto is one of my favorite things in life (for real – every birthday, if it isn’t vegetarian buffalo “wings”, it’s pesto) and it has a multitude of uses beyond pasta (spaghetti squash pasta, zoodles or otherwise). It adds a bright, fresh flavor to any dish. If you’re not in a time crunch, take a moment to whip up this pretty dope version. Obviously, it tastes the best when you use fresh basil that is in season, but I found some pretty legit fresh and hydroponically grown basil in the grocery store.
L’s Bomb Pesto:
- 2 cups of packed basil leaves
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (or Romano cheese, if you’re not vegan)*
- 5 Tbsp pine nuts (or chopped walnuts, if that’s more your style)
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic (about 5 cloves of garlic, minced)
*If you’re not down with the nutritional yeast, try “diluting” it with cashews (blend nutritional yeast & cashews together in a 3:1 cashew : yeast ratio and add 1/2 cup of the mixture in place of the cheese). OR, substitute my sister J’s fave brand Go Veggie! Vegan Parmesan cheese.
Add all ingredients into a food processor and blast until they are finely chopped into a pesto-like consistency (just enough so that the nuts are chopped). Add more olive oil if necessary. If you want to be a cooking rockstar, after adding the two tablespoons to the soup, divide the remaining pesto into a clean ice cube tray and freeze – that way, you can take one “pesto cube” out of the tray and use as necessary without thawing a whole container. Genius, eh? 😀 Once they are completely frozen, you can pop them out of the tray and place them into a freezer bag or airtight container for storage (and to make room in your freezer).
I hope you guys enjoy this recipe as much as I did, I am preeeeeeeettty excited to go for round 2 at lunch today. Yum.
Happy Monday, everyone! ❤