I’m finally back! It was great to have a little break during Thanksgiving (and to get some sun in Florida!), but I missed my little corner of the internet here. I hope you all had a lovely holiday. I’m still in disbelief that Christmas is 19 days away – I haven’t started my shopping yet – but I’m loving that I now get to enjoy Christmas cookies, treats at Chicago’s German Christmas market, and cocktails at holiday parties. But with all of these temptations around, I’ve noticed that my cravings for healthy foods have actually increased. I suppose it’s my body seeking balance, trying to find that equilibrium which makes me feel happy and energized. Lately I’ve been drawn to vegetable soups, like this broccoli white bean version.
This soup is wonderfully healthy, flavorful and filling. With broccoli, spinach, onion and celery, it’s a great way to reach your daily veggie goal (which even for a vegetarian can seem daunting to achieve). And although many veggie soups can be bland, this one has a very bright flavor from the addition of lemon zest. But I have to say that my favorite part of this soup is its creaminess and thickness from the white beans, which also add fiber and protein to round out the nutritional value of the meal.
The key with this soup is to make sure that the veggies are completely soft by the time you’re ready to puree, as this will give it a very smooth and silky texture. While this means that the recipe takes a bit longer than most of the recipes you’ll see here, I think it’s completely worth it. I love to make a big batch of this on the weekends and then have it throughout the week (call me crazy, but I think it might even taste better as leftovers!).
I should also mention that there are a lot of ways to customize this soup. A splash of buttermilk gives it a nice richness, but I also think it’s great without. I’ve had fun varying up toppings, too: almonds, pine nuts, more roasted broccoli or white beans, cheese and even stirring in some tahini are all options to try.
- For the roasted broccoli:
- 1 head of broccoli, cut into small pieces
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- For the remainder of the soup:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- About 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 red or yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 1 14 oz can cooked white beans
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- ½ cup buttermilk (optional)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Add the broccoli to a baking dish and coat with the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Toss well and bake for 20-30 minutes, until the broccoli is soft. Check occasionally to ensure the florets do not become burnt.
- In the meantime, sautee the garlic, celery and onion over medium heat in a large pot for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.
- Add the vegetable stock, white beans and the roasted broccoli. Bring to a boil and cook for five more minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and add spinach, salt and lemon zest.
- Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. If you are using a blender, puree the soup in batches and then return to the pot.
- Add optional buttermilk, additional salt to taste, and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.