I’ve always been a baker and lover of cookies and baked goods but I’ve been cooking (and more importantly enjoying it) more this year. And I’ve been making lots of soups and one pot meals to eat as lunches throughout the week. When I first made the Tuscan Vegetable Soup from Ellie Krieger, I quickly realized the reason it has 5 out of 5 stars on 244 reviews on foodnetwork.com is because it is perfect as written.
When I made the soup again, I borrowed from a couple of other recipes that I like and came up with a variation that adds some texture to the broth. The original recipe calls for mashing 1/2 the beans and I combined half the canned beans and half the canned tomatoes in my Ninja Pulse blender and added tomato paste with the spices. And since I have been blessed to be able to relocate to coastal North Carolina, I named my version “Carolina Vegetable Soup”.
Carolina Vegetable Soup
- 15 ounces beans (cannellini, pinto, kidney...pick your favorite bean)
- 14.5 ounces diced tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 large sweet onion diced (about 1 cup)
- 3 carrots diced (about 3/4 cup)
- 3 stalks celery diced (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 small zucchini diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 3/4 tsp dried sage
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper freshly ground
- 32 ounces vegetable broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups baby spinach leaves chopped
- 1/3 cup Parmesan freshly grated, optional
Add 1/2 beans and 1/2 diced tomatoes to Ninja blender, pulse 5 or 6 times. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, tomato paste, cumin, sage, salt and pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the broth, blended bean and tomato mixture, remaining tomatoes with the juice and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Add remaining whole beans and the spinach leaves and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes more.
Serve topped with Parmesan, if desired.