Cranberry Bean Salad. I cleaned out the fridge today and there they were...poor, unloved beans. I also found that the crisper had ample amounts of fresh spinach, half a yellow onion, some red bell pepper that needed using up, lots of celery and some carrots that were starting to dry out. There was no doubt in my mind that the answer was...SOUP. With the fog scheduled to roll in by dinnertime I knew it would be cool enough to enjoy some soup. The fridge clean out also inspired me to make some salmon egg rolls, but that's for another post.
I often don't post soups that I make because it seems so simple to me to make soup. This time it turned out so well that I want the recipe just as I made it for future reference. It is still pretty simple, but these days I forget what I had for dinner last night, so it is likely I won't remember the exact proportions and that might just be the secret for why this soup was so savory and delicious.
I started, as I usually do, with chopped onion, sauteed in a little olive oil. Garlic goes in after the onion has had some time to soften. Chopped celery and red pepper went in next, followed closely by chopped carrot. That all cooked for about 3 minutes before I added some yellow zucchini, covered the pot, turned the heat way down, and sweated the mixture for a while...about 10 minutes.
Then I gave it a good stir and turned the heat up to high...that allowed the excess liquid to steam off and also some of the veggies had some nice browned spots on them. Before brown could turn to black I added chopped tomato including juice. That deglazed the pan nicely! Fresh spinach was stirred in until it wilted. The beans were added, along with thyme, sage, dried orange peel, paprika, and pepper. Again the the pot was covered and the heat turned low. Another 10 minutes allowed all those wonderful flavors to combine. After uncovering again I added some broth and gave it all a stir. Covered again the mixture simmered another 20 minutes.
The soup smelled sooo good and tasted even better. Often I try a new recipe and make notes right away on what to do differently next time. This time I wouldn't change a thing. Quite unusual, but now you know why I want to save this recipe...and why I want to share it with you.
Cranberry Bean and Veggie Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1-2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 medium zucchini (any color) sliced lengthwise in quarters and then sliced in 1/4 inch slices
1-2 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped...keep the juice for the pot
3-4 cups fresh spinach, rinsed
1 cup cooked cranberry beans (see THIS recipe for cooking the beans)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon dried orange peel
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
pepper to taste
1 can (1 3/4 cups) vegetable or chicken broth
In a soup pot heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, stir and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, stir and cook another minute. Add the celery, bell pepper, and carrot and stir. Cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the zucchini and stir. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover and turn heat to high. Cook another 3 minutes, stirring about every 30 seconds. Vegetables will brown a little bit.
Add the chopped tomatoes to the pot and stir. Lower the heat to medium. Use a wooden or nylon spoon to scrap any dark brown or black bits from the bottom and sides of the pan. Add the fresh spinach and stir. Let cook another minute to wilt the spinach. Add the cooked beans, dried thyme, dried orange peel, paprika, sage and pepper to taste. Cover and cook 10 minutes over low heat.
Uncover, add the broth, recover the pot and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve. If desired, sprinkle a little grated Parmesan cheese over the soup in the bowl before serving.