Tuscan Vegetable Soup with Spinach and Butternut Squash
How is this vegetable soup different from all other vegetable soups? (’tis the season; I’ve got questions on my mind – so if you will be celebrating the story of Passover, please sing this question to the tune of Mah Nishtanah)
It’s Tuscan! That means inspired by the fertile Tuscany Valley. Countless combinations with a few basics. Fresh vegetables in vibrant contrasting colors. green things like spinach or chard or kale. Orange like butternut squash. Olive oil for richness. Tomato for depth of flavor. Beans, for thickness and more flavor like cannellini, Northern beans, red beans or garbanzos. And fresh herbs or dried, like oregano, thyme and/or parsley.
If you can believe this, Novio was not a soup person in his single days. He didn’t get it. Liquid food? He wanted the solid stuff. Something he could sink his teeth into. All that changed when he came down with a nasty cold one year. My Novio, thank goodness, is a sturdy guy. This was not a usual event, Grudgingly, he made his way to a favorite restaurant and ordered himself a piping hot bowl of the daily special. He thinks it might have been mushroom barley, but he’s not sure. Doesn’t matter. He’s now a true believer in soup. Of any denomination.
Good. Because I love soup. And I don’t think I’ve ever made a soup the same way twice. I even tinker with the most traditional one of all… chicken soup.
So I began this Tuscan veggie soup in a very traditional way – by sauteing chopped onions and garlic in olive oil. I also chopped up some carrots and celery. And threw in a parsnip too.
The liquid for the soup is a combination of vegetable broth, chopped tomatoes in their own juice and water.
Butternut squash, rinsed canned beans and spinach are going in later.
And here come the other ingredients…
TUSCAN VEGETABLE SOUP WITH SPINACH & BUTTERNUT SQUASH
2 T. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced (use the leaves too)
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
1 small butternut squash (or half a medium), diced
1 t. dried oregano
4 c. low-sodium vegetable broth (or regular)
1 14-oz. can fresh diced tomatoes in their juice
2 c. water
1 14-oz. can Great Northern beans (or another white bean or garbanzos), drained and rinsed
2 c. fresh spinach
1/2 c. fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped
salt & pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in heavy-bottomed pot. A Dutch oven or your favorite soup pot are excellent choices. Add chopped onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic, celery, carrot, squash and dried herbs and cook for 5 more minutes.
Add the liquids: broth, tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 45 minutes with lid askew (like a jaunty beret). And beans and cook for 30 more minutes. I like everything soft.
Add spinach and cook until just wilted.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Add chopped parsley to finish.
Makes 6-8 servings. Like all soup, this one gets better the more you re-heat it.
bb serving ideas: Top off each bowl with a drizzle of olive oil. If going dairy, sprinkle a little grated parmesan on top of each bowl.
Watch the satisfied faces of your favorite soup-eaters… here’s a personal favorite…