Living in Ontario, I get very serious about stretching out warm weather as far as I can. I savor the tomatoes and juicy stone fruit, stay out in the sun and drink iced tea to my hearts’ content. Alas, at a certain point, you have to accept the change of seasons, the turning leaves, and the chill that makes you pull out your woolies and put the kettle on. Life goes on and autumn is here.
Chilly days for me mean a craving for warming foods that I feel deep in my bones. Listening to my body and its little cues makes me feel pretty darn good, so when it's calling for a steamy soup, I get to work. When I'm making a large batch of soup for lunches throughout the week, I turn to broth-based soups that I can fill with heartiness. Grains and clean proteins like beans and lentils fill me up in these one-pot-meal affairs.
I load this soup with some end-of-season veggies, lots of quinoa and creamy white beans, a hefty chop of herbs on top and some kale in the mix for vitamins and color. This soup is nutritionally complete and filling on its own, so I love making heaps of it to freeze for later. The tomato plants are giving their final push of fruits so I throw those into the pot before the frost snatches them up, but canned chopped tomatoes would work well too. Our planted thyme and rosemary seem to endure the chill pretty well, but dried herbs taste great too. Scale the amount back to about 2 tsp total for both if using dried.
Recipe Notes: I take the time to cook out the tomato paste so that the raw saltiness can fade away, leaving the intensity of the tomato. Also if you’re serving the soup right away, add the finishing greens and herbs. If freezing or putting some away for later, add the kale and parsley as you reheat the portions to avoid overcooked greens.
1 cup dry beans soaked for at least 2 hours and drained (I used navy beans)
2 tbsp grape seed oil
1 medium onion, diced (I added a small-diced shallot too)
1 rib celery, diced 1 bay leaf 2 cloves garlic, minced
3 sprigs thyme, leaves chopped fine
1 sprig rosemary, leaves chopped fine
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 cups halved grape tomatoes (or regular diced tomatoes or 1 can of diced tomatoes)
2 quarts vegetable stock
2 cups diced vegetables (I used zucchini and green beans)
1/2 cup quinoa, soaked (or rice or millet or small pasta, etc)
1/2 bunch kale, leaves removed and chopped roughly
5 sprigs of parsley, leaves chopped fine
salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a big soup pot over medium. Add the onions and cook until they soften up just a bit, about 5 minutes. I like to stew the onion in the oil for a while so that it gets really soft and blends right in with the soup. Add the celery and bay leaf and cook until the celery softens, another 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme and rosemary. Cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and stir continuously until paste is broken up and its flavor is cooked out, about 5-7 minutes. Add the beans and tomatoes and stir to coat in the tomato paste mixture. Add about 1/2 cup of the stock and scrape the bottom of the pot to get any browned bits up. Add the rest of the stock and bring to a boil. Simmer until the beans still have some bite, about 35 minutes.
Add the quinoa and stir. If you’re using rice, add it with the beans. If using pasta, add it after letting the beans cook for about 40 minutes since they don’t take as long as quinoa.
Add the vegetables and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. If using heartier vegetables like carrots or squash, add them sooner to allow adequate cooking time.
When the beans are a little soft (but still have some bite!), add the greens and parsley. Stir until greens are wilted a bit and serve.
Makes one large potful!