This healthy, vegetarian "souper soup" is also super-satisfying and easy to make.
"We love this soup as is," says Rach, "but if you want to add more 'comfort' to your meal, serve with garlic-rubbed charred bread with olive oil or cheesy garlic butter toast, or stir in 12 ounces gnocchi or ¾ cup ditalini pasta to cook in soup just before serving. If you add pasta or gnocchi, reduce beans in soup by half, dry or canned."
PRO TIP: If making white beans from dried, soak 1 cup of beans overnight and cover beans by 2 to 3 inches of water in bowl. Rinse beans and place in pot and cover with 3 inches water, bring to boil, add salt, 1 halved onion, and 2 bay leaves; cook to just tender, 30 to 40 minutes, skimming byproduct as it floats to top.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, EVOO
- 3 ribs celery, with leafy tops, chopped
- 1 bulb fennel, quartered, cored and chopped
- 2 medium leeks, trimmed of dark tops and root ends, halved lengthwise, washed, dried and sliced 1/4-to 1/2-inch
- 2 parsley roots or parsnips, peeled and chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced or chopped
- Salt and pepper
- Bundle of herbs: thyme, sage, parsley stems or tops from root and fennel fronds
- 1 chunk of rind from Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 2 quarts chicken stock, or vegetable stock
- 1 head escarole, cleaned and chopped or shredded 1-inch slices
- A few grates of nutmeg
- 2 cans cannellini beans, drained a bit (if not preparing dried beans)
- 12 ounces gnocchi, optional
- 1/2 cup ditalini pasta, optional
- 1 lemon, grated cheese to pass, and charred bread rubbed with garlic, EVOO and flaky salt, to serve
Heat soup pot over medium-high heat, add EVOO, 3 turns of the pan. Add celery, fennel, leeks, parsley root or parsnip, garlic, salt and pepper, herb bundle and rind. Sweat vegetables with lid slightly ajar 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the stock. Bring soup to boil and wilt in the greens and season with a few grates of nutmeg to taste. Add beans, cooked or drained and canned, and simmer to combine flavors 15 minutes; if using, add gnocchi or pasta. Cook until gnocchi floats or pasta is cooked to al dente.
Add water to soup, as needed, 1 to 2 cups if too thick.
To serve, add lemon juice to soup and remove herb bundle and rind. Serve soup in shallow bowls with cheese and pass charred bread.