When the weather is cold, there is nothing better than curling up with a cup of hot soup and a comfy throw. I modified a classic recipe for bean soup that is delicious and filling. The basic recipe can be adapted for most diets and is also vegan and grain-free. Options to personalize the recipe include changing the type of greens, adding other beans, veggies, pasta or grated cheese.
Beans are economical and nutritious. Because a 1/3 cup of cooked beans contains around 80 calories, no cholesterol, lots of complex carbohydrates, and little fat, they are a nutritious ingredient in your recipes. Research suggests beans may reduce disease risk and enhance longevity. The complex carbs and protein help manage diabetes by releasing a slow, steady source of glucose. This prevents sugar spikes associated with simple carbs. See Health Benefits of Beans for more information. If you soak and cook your own, you can make lots of beans for little money. For a fast cooking tip, see Quick Way To Soak Dry Beans.
My recipe calls for baby spinach which is my favorite leafy green, but I’ve also used chard and kale. The baby spinach or chard or kale can be sautéed with garlic along with the carrots, celery, and onions. I know from experience that coming home after a long day I need a quick, nutritious meal. You should be able to eat this in 30 minutes.
You can add more sparks of flavor with additional veggies – a can of cooked diced tomatoes is a great favorite. Sometimes I make it with tomatoes and another week I make it without. Both versions are good. Other veggies such as chunks of fresh zucchini could also be added. If you want a spicier version, add red pepper flakes.
If you are a pasta lover, add a handful of pasta during cooking. If the soup thickens too much, add a half of cup of water. I’m trying a new pasta in the dish today, but I’ve also added cooked brown rice in the past.
I’m using a shallot instead of onion. I always loved onion and then a few years ago I started getting indigestion. My sister and I found that we could substitute shallots for onion and still enjoy our food. Today I am using vegetable broth but chicken or beef broth also make a great soup. You can make your own or use a package of broth.
Grated cheese can be sprinkled on the soup before serving with whole grain crackers, a crusty bread, garlic toast or my favorite, baked cheese and toast.
If you want a fast, delicious, and nutritious meal for a week night, try using the time savers below:
Time Savers For A Fast Meal
- Use a package of peeled baby carrots or frozen carrot slices
- Use canned beans
- Use a bag of baby spinach
- Use a box of vegetable or chicken broth
- Use dried Italian seasoning mix (2 – 3 teaspoons) instead of the individual herbs and crush the seasoning (see recipe for Italian seasoning below)
Easy Tuscan Bean Soup
Use organic when available. Serves 6 as a course in dinner.
Tuscan Bean Soup
- 1 cup coarsely sliced carrots or about 2 or 3 large carrots
- 1/2 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
- 1 small onion chopped
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for drizzling
- 3 cups cooked cannellini beans drained and rinsed (2 cans)
- Optional change - use 1 1/2 cups (1 can) cannellini beans and 1 1/2 cups (1 can) of another kind of beans such as kidney or pinto
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 4 cups vegetable broth (option: chicken or beef broth)
- Optional add a chunked zucchini, yellow squash, or other veggie
- Optional add a can of cooked tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary or 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- Optional, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 cups baby spinach, kale or chard
- salt & pepper to taste
- In large pot, heat 2 tablespoon olive oil and add onion, garlic, carrots, and greens
- Cook over medium heat for about 2 to 3 minutes
- Add beans, broth, pasta (if using), and seasoning
- Bring to a boil and then lower heat and put lid on pot
- Cook about 20 minutes
- Drizzle virgin olive oil on top, stir, and serve with crackers or bread
- I also suggest baked cheese toast. Thinly slice cheese on bread to toast in the oven
- Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on top of bowl of soup if desired.
Tip for freezing the soup:
Prepare soup through step 3 but without the greens and carrots. Let soup cool. Transfer soup to a freezer-safe container, leaving about 1/2 inch of space between the top of the soup and the rim of the container. Label and freeze up to 3 months. Reheat on the stove. Cook greens and carrots in a skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil for 2 minutes. Add to soup and cook another 3 minutes. I suggest leaving out the greens and carrots as I do not like their consistency after freezing.
As a bonus, I’m including a recipe for dried Italian seasoning mix. Save money and make your own.
Many people like the convenience of dried Italian seasoning. I generally don’t buy it as I don’t like sage which is in most commercial blends. I found the recipe for making your own Italian seasoning mix at Italian Seasoning Mix. A great way to save money and personalize your seasonings to fit your taste. I listed many herbs that can be included. You can add or subtract. I personally do not like sage, and I rarely use marjoram. My favorite herb is basil and I put it almost everything. I also love parsley. I personally don’t put dried rosemary in my blend as I have a small rosemary bush beside the front porch. I love snipping what I need when I cook.
Tip: Use the bags of dried herbs which are cheaper than bottled herbs.
Italian Seasoning Mix
Italian Seasoning Mix
- 3 tbsp dried basil
- 2 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp dried thyme
- 2 tbsp dried marjoram
- 1 tbsp dried rosemary
- 1 tbsp dried sage
- 1 tbsp optional dried garlice
- Place all herbs in your food processor or blender and blend well
- Store in glass bottle with lid
I save and re-use glass bottles. My organic cinnamon comes in a nice size glass bottle with a shaker top. It’s perfect to fill with my Italian seasoning mix.
Hope you have a great day!
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