Soups - The 1st One

9:30 AM

Often I feel like I am scrambling all over trying to finish up tasks on my list (there's a bazillion!) and so when it comes to dinner time, I fall back on some basics.  Well, lately the basics have been, well kind of basic.  So, as a family we decided to make some changes, and our first step towards this was to sign up for a bi-monthly vegetable box.  The challenge with the vegetable box is now we have to make something out of all the wonderful fresh vegetables that arrive bright and early Friday morning.

Our first box arrived with everything recognizable, except for a bunch of dark green leafy stuff that according to our sheet is 'Swiss Chard'.  Well, I've read about this stuff, but I've never eaten it, touched, or even imagined cooking it!  I sent out a quick 'Help' to my friend (and amazing chef) Kim and she responded quickly with the following delicious soup.  This was a great rustic Italian style soup that we ate up for dinner and then lunch the next day.  The whole family loved it and I hope you do too!

Robert’s Favorite Toasted Bread, Bean, & Vegetable Soup
About 6 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 white onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 medium carrots, chopped into ½ in. pieces
4 celery stalks, chopped into 1 in. pieces
3 quarts chicken broth
3 cans (15 oz) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
6 whole canned tomatoes, quartered, plus some juice
4 cups chopped Swiss chard
4 cups rough-textured day-old bread (like ciabatta), cubed into 1- ½ in. pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp. eachchopped fresh basil and cilantro
Wedge of Parmesan cheese for grating (optional)
  Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook until transparent, about 5 min. Add carrots and celery and cook, stirring often, 5 min. Stir in broth and beans, and then bring to a boil. 
  Take about 2 cups of the soup before adding chard and tomatoes, and puree to thicken the “broth”.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer about 15 min. Add tomatoes, juice, and chard and simmer another 15 min, covered.
  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350. Lay bread pieces on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with remaining 2 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper-toss to coat. Toast in oven until slightly golden, about 10 min. Set croutons aside.
      Just before serving, add basil and cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  Divide soup among serving bowls and top each with a few croutons. Grate Parmesan directly over soup if you like (you totally should).

Recipe adapted from Sunset Magazine  - Via Kim!

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