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Serious Soup

January 31, 2011

By Brianne Harrison Moore

This Friday is National Homemade Soup Day, and they really couldn’t have timed that better, could they? Soup is comforting, warms you from the inside out on a cold day, and can easily be stretched into several meals, or made to feed a crowd (hello, Super Bowl partiers!). The recipe below is one of my wintertime favorites—it’s easy, cheap, and extremely hearty. Toss in any veggies you feel like; it adapts very well to a variety of flavors.

Bean and Winter Vegetable Soup

4 ½ cups assorted beans (chickpeas, white beans, black beans, and kidney beans all work well), soaked overnight if dried, or drained and rinsed if canned.

1 onion, chopped

1 leek, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 medium eggplant, diced

several leaves of kale, stem removed and chopped, or fresh spinach leaves, chopped

8 cups vegetable or chicken broth

a few sprigs of thyme

2 bay leaves

1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes, with juice

½ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

1 cup shell-shaped or other small pasta

Place a large pot on the stove and heat just enough olive oil to cover the bottom over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for a few minutes, until they get a creamy color. Add the leek, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring, for about five minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the eggplant and toss to combine.

Add the broth, beans, herbs, tomatoes and juice (crush the tomatoes before adding them), and cayenne, if you’re using it. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the beans are tender (if you use canned beans, this’ll only take a few minutes, but if you use dried beans that have been soaked, this can take quite a long time, up to an hour or 90 minutes).

Uncover the pot, add the kale and pasta, and boil until pasta is done. If you don’t plan on eating the soup right away, cook the pasta a minute or two less than the package suggests, otherwise it gets mushy. Serve the soup with some warm, crusty bread.

Healthy Roundup

As I’ve mentioned before, beans are seriously healthy. They’ve got all kinds of minerals and dietary fiber that helps stabilize your blood sugar and lowers your risk of heart disease. For more info on the health benefits of beans, see our latest Nutrition column.

You’ve heard all your life that eating your veggies is a must if you’re going to be healthy; now, new research suggests that it may help you look more attractive as well. According to a study from researchers at Bristol and St. Andrews Universities in the UK, eating a diet high in cartotenoids makes your skin glow, which makes you appear more attractive. Carotenoids are found in fruits and vegetables such as carrots, kale, spinach, and thyme.

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