The next day, I started thinking about what I would make for that night's dinner. I knew I wanted to use those beautiful beans, which I imagined would have a buttery, earthy, delicious taste. I started looking for inspiration in a vegetarian cookbook that I had and some of my favorite food blogs. I wasn't really finding anything that grabbed me. So I decided to create my own recipe using local vegetables that I had in my refrigerator: turnips, carrots, leeks, tomatoes, swiss chard and a new vegetable (for me) that I had never cooked with before: parsley root. I just learned about parsley root within the past couple of days. I can't remember exactly where I read or heard about it, but someone was either writing or talking about cooking, and recalling that her grandmother (I was imagining a European peasant woman) always flavored soups and stews with parsley root. This was the first time I had even heard of parsley root, and then the very next day I saw it in the produce section of the supermarket. I was so excited! The produce manager in the store told me that the greens on top of the parsley root were actually parsley, so I got fresh parsley in the same "package," which I also utilize in this recipe.
I saw the first snowflakes of the season fall that afternoon, as my soup simmered on the stove. Hearty vegetable soup and wintery cold weather: a perfect combination!
I used two of most ingredients to make it easy to remember the proportions to use!
extra virgin olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, cut in half lengthwise and then sliced horizontally into pieces
2 parsley roots, peeled and cut into small pieces
2 carrots, cut into small pieces
2 stalks celery, diced
2 medium potatoes, cut into pieces
2 turnips, peeled and cut into pieces
2 cups cooked Jacob’s Cattle Trout, cannellini, or other white beans
2 tomatoes, diced or 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes, cut into halves, or 1 tomato and 1 handful of cherry tomatoes
4 cups cold water
splash of red wine
small part of a hot Asian red pepper, diced small (no seeds)
½ tsp sea salt
bunch of fresh thyme leaves and stems, chopped
dried chipotle chile
1 large clove garlic, chopped fine
bunch of swiss chard leaves and stems, chopped
bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
grated Parmisiano-Reggiano cheese, optional
Heat olive oil in soup pot over medium heat, then sauté leeks for a few minutes, until soft. Add cut-up vegetables: parsley root, carrots, celery, potatoes, turnips, tomatoes, hot pepper; then add cold water, red wine, sea salt, thyme, and dried chipotle chile. Bring to boil over high heat, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until vegetables are soft. If you need to leave the house, you can turn off the stove and let the vegetables steep in the soup with the cover on; the residual heat will continue cooking the soup and you will save energy! After vegetables are soft, add cooked beans. In a skillet, heat more olive oil over low heat, then add garlic and stir. Add chopped swiss chard and cook for a few minutes over medium heat, stirring so that garlic and olive oil coat the swiss chard leaves. Then scrape the chard, garlic and olive oil into the soup and stir. Continue to cook for 15 minutes or longer over low heat. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper if necessary. Just before serving, add chopped fresh parsley. Sprinkle grated Parmisiano-Reggiano over soup in serving bowls, if desired. Makes about 6 servings.