I’m a soup girl. I like the one-pot, low-fuss, dinner all in one bowl nature of the dish. I also love that if you start a soup on Sunday night, you’ve got a weeknight meal or two waiting for you. Bonus – knowing that there’s a pot of deliciousness in my fridge whose flavors have perfectly melded overnight deters me from stopping by a pizza joint after work to buy a huge pie with everything when the day’s done me in.
This meatless soup blends the classic Italian flavors of kale and white beans with cabbage and parsnips. The beans make the soup especially filling, the greens and cabbage give it a healthy boost, and the parsnips sweeten the dish up. Both great northern or cannellini beans fare well here. To make the dish even heartier, serve with crusty whole-wheat country bread or a poached egg.
Parsnip, Greens and White Bean Soup
1 cup dried great northern beans, soaked overnight
1 bay leaf
1 sprig sage, plus 1 1/2 tablespoon chopped sage
1 sprig thyme, plus 1 1/2 tablespoon chopped thyme
2 pounds leeks
3 tablespoons butter
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped medium-size
1 3/4 pounds parsnips, trimmed and chopped medium-size
3/4 – 1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 small napa cabbage, trimmed and chopped into large pieces
3 cups vegetable stock
1 bunch kale, trimmed and torn into large pieces
Bring the soaked white beans, onion, bay leaf, sage and thyme sprigs, and 5 cups water to a boil. Lower heat and cook for 30 minutes, or until still slightly al dente. Saving the cooking liquid, drain and set aside. This can be done hours before cooking the soup if you wish.
Slice off the bottom of the leeks. Cut off the top dark green part, about 4 or 5 inches from the bottom. Dispose of the bottom and top parts. Slice the remaining leek lengthwise, then into half-rings about half an inch thick. Wash well under running water to rid the leek of any debris.
Heat the butter in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add leeks and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook for 7 minutes. Lower heat to medium, add garlic, carrots, and parsnips and cook for 5 more minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, the bean cooking liquid, napa cabbage and cook for 10 minutes. Add vegetable stock, beans and kale and cook for 15 more minutes. Crush about one-third to half of the parsnips against the side of the pot with the back of a spoon to thicken the soup texture. Let cool for 5 minutes, taste, and season with more salt if needed. Serve.
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