(Printable version below)
Winter is the perfect time for hearty soups. Warming, nourishing, nutritious. If you're looking for a delicious meat free meal, but still packed with plenty of protein and nutrient dense veg, then you've got to try this traditional mediterranean soup. Cannellini beans (sometimes called white kidney beans) have protein, iron & folate. It's important to have a protein with every meal as it helps maintain muscle mass, makes you feel fuller for longer and is used for dozen of metabolic processes in the body. Kale is the vegetable superstar in this dish. It's nutrient dense with vitamins A & C for immune function, Vitamin K and calcium for bone health, as well as Vitamins B1, B2 & B3 for energy production. This soup if packed with fibre which feeds the microbiome in your gut.
The nutrition breakdown here is a guide only as your individual ingredients may differ.
You can easily make this dish gluten free by removing the bread and dairy free by also replacing the parmesan cheese with a tablespoon of nutritional yeast.
The sodium count is high, which comes from the parmesan cheese, vegetable stock and bread. If you are watching your sodium intake, ensure you use a low sodium stock (home made is best of course), remove the bread and cheese.
The alcohol (white wine) can also be replaced with 1/2 cup additional stock. The key is to make it your own! Feel free to add different veg, beans or legumes. Lentils would also work very well.
Heat oven to 200 celcius
Tear the bread into large pieces and spread out on a baking tray. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and toss to make sure the bread is coated. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown, turning a few times.
In a large cooking pot, heat 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery and carrots. Season lightly with sea salt. Lower the heat to medium and cook, tossing regularly, until softened. Add the garlic, and briefly cook until fragrant (about 1 min)
Add the tomatoes, white wine, broth and bring to a simmer for 10 mins. If using whole tomatoes, break up into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon.
Carefully remove about 1/2 cup of the tomato mixture and allow to cool for a couple of minutes.
In the bowl of a food processor add the 1/2 cup of tomato mixture and 1 cup of the cannellini beans and puree. Be careful of the hot liquid. I don't recommend using a blender as hot liquids can build pressure and blow the lid off! A food processor will have feeder tube in the lid where steam & heat can escape.
Add the parmesan rind to the pot with the remaining tomato mixture, along with the thyme, bay leaves, oregano, dried chilli flakes (if using) and a pinch of kosher salt. Stir to combine. Let simmer over medium heat for about 20 minutes.
Now add the white beans (both the whole and pureed beans) and fresh kale (stir to make sure the kale is submerged in the soup) to the cooking pot. Let the kale cook for a few minutes. Add ½ of the toasted ciabatta bread and stir. Let simmer a little bit longer until the kale has fully cooked and the bread has softened and absorbed some of the liquid.
Remove from the heat and take out what is left of the Parmesan rind & bay leaves. Top the soup with a bit more of the toasted bread. Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of Parmesan, if you like. Enjoy!
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