I'm making this dinner tonight for two nights. I often do this during a busy work week. It's easy to do provided you plan ahead a little to make enough for two meals. I typically cook only 3-4 nights each week, making enough each time for two dinners. Since there is only two of us here, that's pretty easy to do. However, if you're feeding a crowd or hungry kids just double the recipes. They're all very flexible and easy to increase quantities as needed.
It's rainy and dreary out tonight so I think a hearty soup is in order. On 'Le Menu' is Spicy Tomato & White Bean Soup. I throw in some chopped, wilted chard at the very end to make sure I get my daily greens. You could easily omit that altogether or substitute with baby spinach. I'm not big on garlic so you won't often see it in my recipes. However, if you're one of those 'garlic people', by all means add it here with the onions and carrots.
A nice accompaniment to the soup are grilled cheese sandwiches. It rounds out the meal and they're easy to throw together just before serving. This week I'm using an olive baguette from my freezer with smoked cheddar and crisp sliced apples. However, use what you have and what you like. Ciabatta with pear and gruyere would be yumm as would fontina with artichoke hearts, roasted peppers and olive tapenade..... Use your imagination here.
For the Soup:
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1, 28 oz can crushed tomatoes ( I prefer San Marzano brand)
1, 15 oz can white beans, rinsed and drained (I prefer Eden brand navy beans)
4 cups low sodium vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
1 bunch fresh Chard, stems & ribs removed, leaves coarsely chopped
1 TB + 1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp sugar
2 TB EVOO + more for serving
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup Lowfat sour cream
zest from 1/2 lemon
1) In a 5 qt dutch oven or other heavy soup pot, heat 2TB olive oil. Add onion and carrot, salt, pepper, sugar, rosemary, and red chili flakes and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add drained white beans and crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Pour in vegetable stock. Cover and simmer about 15-20 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, heat a stovetop griddle or a 10" nonstick skillet. Slice bread, about 1/2" thick. Brush both sides of the bread slices lightly with olive oil. Add sliced cheese and sliced apples. Top with remaining bread slices and add to hot pan. Once cheese begins to melt, press down hard with a spatula to compress sandwich. Cook until cheese begins to melt and bread is golden brown. Flip and repeat.
3) In a small bowl, combine sour cream, lemon zest, and remaining 1 tsp rosemary. Season with salt & pepper, set aside.
4) After soup has simmered for 15-20 minutes, carefully blend it with an immersion blender. Puree the soup but don't fuss about it, just leave it thick and somewhat chunky. You can also do this in a regular blender, just use caution when blending hot liquids and do not overfill the blender jar. After you've blended, stir in the chard. The heat from the soup will wilt the leaves or just put the lid on for a minute or two, which will also do the trick.
5) Ladle the soup into serving bowls, top with a dollop of the sour cream mixture and serve the panini alongside. A nice full bodied red wine and a winter salad of bitter chicories would be delish.