If all of us eat less meat, we will help make the Earth more sustainable, as more land is required to raise animals than to raise plants for eating, in terms of how far the food will go to feed people. With that in mind, I try to eat vegetarian meals more and more frequently. It is also healthier to eat this kind of food. This soup is thick and creamy, perfect for a cold day. It tastes even better the second day.
3 cups white beans (Cannellini if possible)
1 cup spelt
1 tsp salt
extra-virgin olive oil
½ sweet pepper
2 leeks, chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 tsp dried sage
1 dried hot pepper, cut in half horizontally
1 1/2 tsp salt
5 oz. baby spinach
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
5 cups cubed stale good-quality bread (bakery or homemade)
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Soak beans and spelt in separate pots overnight, each with plenty of water to cover.
Drain and rinse beans. Place them in a large pot with water to cover about 3” above the top of the beans, and add half an onion and half a sweet pepper (do not chop—these are just for flavor). Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 45 minutes. Drain and rinse spelt. Add to pot with 1 tsp. salt. Meanwhile, heat plenty of olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Add garlic and stir, then add this mixture to the pot of beans. Add carrots, celery, sage, hot pepper and freshly ground black pepper to the pot and cook, uncovered, until beans and spelt are tender, about 45 minutes. Add baby spinach and cook for 5 minutes, then turn off heat and let the pot sit with the cover on for an hour to let the flavors blend together.
For the croutons, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a cookie sheet or rimmed baking pan with foil. Put bread cubes on the pan and toss with olive oil and salt. Grind black pepper over all. Place in oven for 5 minutes, toss, then bake 5 minutes more, and if not golden brown on all sides toss and then bake an additional 5 minutes. Sprinkle croutons over individual servings of soup in bowls.