It’s March and somehow we’re still getting snow! Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE the snow, but it feels a bit more appropriate to have a snowfall in January and February with sub-zero temperatures, rather than a snow flurry followed by a fifty-degree sunny day- oh well! At least the weather is giving me one more excuse to keep riding the soup train and make up some simple, nourishing lunches.
Of all the countries we have traveled to, Italy is hands down our favorite. We love the people, the history, the wine, and, of course, the food! In Tuscany, there is a soup called ribollita that uses copious amount of Tuscan kale and gets it’s thickness from creamy white beans and tomato puree. It is savory, yet sweet all in one bite and has the perfect heft for a filling lunch soup.
This Italian classic inspired my lunch prep for this week, but with a few minor adjustments. In an effort to mix up my leafy green intake, rather than use kale I threw in some rainbow Swiss chard. Chard is quite high in vitamins C, K, and A, meaning it is perfect for fighting off winter colds and helping combat oxidative stress and inflammation. It packs a punch in the fiber department, so is great for balancing blood sugars and dropping your LDL, or “bad”, cholesterol.
My version also uses farro instead of toasted bread for the carbohydrate component. If you haven’t yet cooked with this ancient grain I stongly encourage you to pick up a bag! Farro is exceptionaly high in fiber and protein, both of which help with insulin sensitivity (meaning your cells are very open to taking in glucose from the blood and using it for energy) and provides immense satisfaction and keeps hunger at bay.
This recipe serves 3 portions, so you and your sweetie could each have a bowl for dinner one night, and the remaining can get packed up for lunch. Or if you’re lucky, like me, you get to enjoy it all for yourself for 3 days of lunches.
Tuscan Bean and Swiss Chard Soup- serves 3
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and chopped into small dice, leaves torn into bite-size pieces
1 tsp of each- dried thyme, rosemary, oregano
1 (14.5 oz.) can of diced tomatoes
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1/2 cup cooked farro
1 (15 oz.) can low sodium cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Salt and pepper to taste
For garnish- shaved parmesan, chopped flat leaf parsley, balsamic vinegar
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, swiss chard stems, and a pinch of salt. Saute for about 3 minutes. Add in the spices and saute for another minute.
Pour in the can of tomatoes and their juices and the vegetable broth. Increase the heat to high and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and let cook for about 7-8 minutes.
Reduce the heat and add in the cooked farro and beans. Cook for another 3 minutes to heat these items through. Stir in the chard leaves gently. Taste and add salt, pepper, and red pepper flake as desired.
Serve with shaved parmesan, chopped parsley, and even a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar.