January is a great time to take a break from the things we so easily indulged in throughout the holidays. If you are anything like me you have eaten your fair share of holiday cookies, cakes and dips and are ready to put the breaks on. It's time to slow down, feel lighter and eat a little healthier. Don't get me wrong, this is not a resolution or extreme plan to give up the things I love (I am a realist here). It's just my way of getting back on track and staying in control.
During the winter months, soup is a great go-to for my family. It's quick and easy and perfect for cold days and busy weekends. My sister gave me her recipe for Florentine White Bean Soup last year and it has become one of my favorite soups to make. I love it because you can easily customize it to your family's taste by changing the ingredients. You can add pasta or potatoes, kale or spinach, or whatever your favorite soup ingredient may be.
This soup is made with fresh vegetables, garlic and herbs, so it's healthy and delicious. There is pancetta in the recipe but it's a small amount and it gives the soup a great flavor. You can substitute bacon if you prefer.
Sauteing the vegetables and pancetta in olive oil before adding broth really brings out all of the different flavors. I actually start most of my soups this way. It's makes a huge difference in the taste.
As you can see, I don't put a lot of broth in my soup. If you want more you can simply add more while it's cooking. I will often add more the next day when I reheat it, especially if it has pasta in it since the noodles absorb the broth. Try making the recipe the way it's written and then make changes once you've tried it. And if you come up with an amazing variation I would love to hear about it!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 ounces pancetta or bacon, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1-2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 4 cups (1 carton) chicken broth
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 cans small white beans (Cannellini)
- 2 cups baby spinach, chopped
- salt & pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- *optional ingredients - small pasta, diced potatoes
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium/low heat until warm. Add pancetta and saute until slightly browned, 5 minutes.
- Raise heat to medium, add onion and carrots and saute until soft, 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and oregano, stir until fragrant, 2 minutes.
- Stir in tomato paste, mix well. Add broth, water and beans. Raise heat to medium/ high and bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium.
- Add spinach and cook until wilted and flavors have blended, 10 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley.