This is a simple, hearty, delicious vegetable soup. Reminiscent of a Tuscan bean soup, it’s packed with flavor and incredibly satisfying. To keep it vegetarian, just omit the pancetta, and use vegetable stock. I like to stir in a little brown rice into the serving bowl, but it’s also great with a nice slice of rustic bread that has been toasted and drizzled with olive oil. Feel free to grate some fresh parmesan over the top of the soup too!
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large brown onion, diced
4 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
½ teaspoon salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
¼- ½ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 - 28 ounce can Muir Glen diced tomatoes
2 medium zucchini, diced
2 - 15 ounce cans white cannellini beans, low sodium, drained and rinsed
1 – 15 ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 quart low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1 piece Parmesan cheese rind, about 5 inches by 2 inches
1 rosemary sprig
1 bay leaf
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon or lime or juice
1. Heat oil and pancetta in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta is lightly browned and the fat has rendered, 6 to 10 minutes.
2. Add the onion, carrots, celery and salt. Cook until softened, about 5-7 minutes - stir frequently so as not to brown.
3. Add the garlic, tomato paste, thyme and red pepper flakes and cook for about 1 minute longer. Add tomatoes, zucchini and rinsed beans, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add the chicken or vegetable stock, rosemary, parmesan rind, and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover partially and simmer for 30 minutes.
5. Discard rind, bay leaves and rosemary sprig and season stew with salt and pepper to taste. If desired, use back of spoon to press some beans against side of pot to thicken stew. Stir in parsley and fresh lemon juice. This soup tastes even better the next day.