It has been a while. Lots has happened in the last, oh, 6+ months since new content has made an appearance on flavor & flora. But, I’m not going to go into the details of that today (…perhaps I will sometime down the road).
What I will explain is that back in the spring life got really demanding. It’s always pretty demanding, but for a few months my commitments increased and my free time diminished. Around that time, I started feeling like my type-A, goal-setting “must post once a week, minimum!” personality, was making me stress about the blog. But ultimately this is something I do for fun. Something to stretch and challenge the creative side of my brain, which frankly needs some work, IMO. What I definitely wanted to avoid was it becoming something to criticize myself about when I don’t have the time to commit to it to meet my own high expectations for quantity and quality. So, I took a little break.
During this break I did make progress on one blog related thing. I upgraded to this new WordPress site from my previous Squarespace site. The new site is sleeker, easier to use, and has a few more helpful features (recipe printing, search, etc.) that I hope are positive updates.
Anywho… several months later, I am showing up today with this warming, cozy bowl of bean and bread soup. It is one of my favorite soups of all time because it’s super flavorful and filling, but is also packed with veggies and beans and therefore is a powerhouse meal filled with vitamins, protein, and fiber.
This soup is similar to the bread soup recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook, Plenty, but this version contains a slightly different vegetable and bean combination. One thing I highly recommend, as does Ottolenghi, is topping the soup with a dollop of fresh herb pesto. Also, if you don’t own Plenty, I highly recommend exercising your online shopping muscles and putting it in your Amazon.com cart right now. It’s a beautiful book fit for the front-and-center space on your coffee table, but unlike many of those “pretty” cookbooks, it actually delivers with delicious and unique recipes that would be perfect to try out this holiday season.
More about this soup…
First, I’m fairly certain celery root is one of the ugliest foods ever known to mankind. It’s seriously terrible looking… kind of like a dirty, malformed brain. I’d really like to thank whoever first looked past its appearance to discover how actually tasty it can be when cooked. I use it here because once the ugly exterior is peeled off, it cubes up nicely and is a good combo with the carrots (I used rainbow carrots) and onion. It also has a slightly milder celery flavor and holds up well in the soup to provide a firm bite as a contrast against the softened bread.
Second, you might think adding bread directly to a soup may seem a bit strange. Yes, it does get soft and spongy after soaking up the liquid. But if you use stale bread as recommended and crisp it up in the oven (just until slightly browned, not crouton hard), the crust will stay chewy and the cubes will hold together to provide bites of that delicious sour, bready goodness.
Also, I mentioned topping this soup with a dollop of pesto. It is seriously a game changer. It adds a fresh, garlicky kick in the mouth and goes oh so well with the sourdough bites. A fair warning though… do not over-pesto. A teaspoon or two should do it, otherwise it overtakes the flavor of the soup. I like to leave it as a dollop, choosing what bites to add a bit of the pesto to, rather than stirring it in to mix evenly throughout the soup. I just like spacing out the pesto’s intense flavor and creating varied bites.
Finally, be careful with this one. It’s one of those dishes that it’s really hard to not start taking bites of directly out of the pot before it’s fully done. Which, I find is a fast-track to a hella-burnt tongue. I know this, yet I still manage to do it to myself pretty much every time I make this dish. Can’t help it… it’s just that good.
Try this as a cozy weekend meal the next time the temperatures dip and you feel like hunkering down. And if you make it, I’d love to hear what you think!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 small celery root (celeriac), diced into ½" or smaller cubes
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1½ cups white wine
- 1 14.5-ounce can whole italian plum tomatoes or diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon dried italian seasoning
- ½ tbsp sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
- 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed
- 2 - 3 thick slices of stale sourdough bread, ripped or cut into chunks
- Easy Three Greens Pesto for serving
- Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 3-4 mins. Add the celery root and carrots and continue cooking for an additional 4 minutes or until veggies have started to soften. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute, then add the wine and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the plum tomatoes, herbs, sugar, broth, and salt / pepper. Use a wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes into very small pieces and liquid. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 40 mins.
- Twenty minutes before the soup is done, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the sourdough chunks in olive oil, salt and pepper. Toast the bread in the oven for about 15 minutes or until it is dry and starting to brown.
- While the bread toasts, mash half of the chickpeas and cannellini beans, leaving the other half of the beans intact. Add the beans to the soup and simmer for 5 minutes.
- When the bread is done toasting, add it to the soup and cook for 5 more minutes.
- Serve topped with dollops of pesto.
Nutrition Facts: Nutrition facts based on 4 servings per recipe and do not include pesto. Pesto nutrition can be found at the bottom of this post.
Calories: 496, Fat: 6.3g, Cholesterol: 0g, Fiber: 16.7g, Protein: 20.0g, Calcium: 22%, Iron: 37.3%
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