Sunday, March 4, 2012

Three bean soup with broccoli rabe

Last night our daughter was attending a birthday party and she was not going to be home for dinner. There were just the two of us on a cool winter day imagining what it would be like when she goes off to college. A bit quiet and sometimes maybe a bit too quiet. A comforting bowl of soup is what came to mind. I had planned on making an Indian style lentil curry with the beans, but a nice warm bowl of soup with crusty and fragrant garlic bread seemed more appropriate.

Loaded with beans, vegetables and peppery broccoli rabe in a spicy tomato broth, it made for a wonderful hearty dinner. The slow cooking gives the beans a wonderful creamy texture and the addition of the Parmesan rind gives the soup an additional complexity. If you are not a fan of broccoli rabe, kale or Swiss chard would make great substitutes. I took a few short cuts - opted to use vegetable bouillon cubes instead of home made vegetable broth and a store bought garlic bread. If you do have vegetable broth you could skip the bouillon cubes and the water and add just the 28 oz of broth. Also, this soup freezes very well and you could easily double the quantity and freeze some for another cool day.

Three bean soup with broccoli rabe

1 cup mixed beans soaked overnight or at least 6 hours [I used a mixture of black beans, red kidney beans and chickpeas]
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 leeks, white parts only finely sliced
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 carrots cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 cup celery, cut into ¼ inch slices [about 3 sticks of celery]
8 oz cremini or white button mushrooms, chopped
4 cups broccoli rabe roughly chopped [stems and leaves]
28 oz of water [I used the tomato can - 2 cans]
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
A 3 inch piece of Parmesan rind [optional]
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 vegetarian stock cubes [no sodium - I used vegan Rapunzel cubes]
1 14 oz can crushed San Marzano tomatoes [salt free]
1 teaspoon granulated sugar [optional]

  1. Heat a heavy bottomed 5 quart Dutch oven or stock pot over medium high heat with extra virgin olive oil. Add the chopped leeks and garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes till the leeks have softened.
  2. Add ½ teaspoon salt and the drained beans and the Parmesan rind if using. Stir once. Add the chopped celery, carrots, zucchini and mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes. Now add the canned tomatoes, red pepper flakes and the stock cubes crumbled and cook for 3 minutes. Finally add the chopped broccoli rabe. Stir it in and add the water. Bring the soup to a boil and reduce it to a simmer. Cover and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Check after 30 minutes to see if the beans are cooked. Adjust the cooking time based on how long the beans take to cook. Taste the soup and if it is too sour add the sugar. Adjust the seasoning and remove the Parmesan rind before serving. Sometimes it melts with the slow cooking, but if it doesnt it needs to be removed. Serve warm with crusty garlic bread.
Serves 4

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