Toasted Bread, Bean and Vegetable Soup

This lighter version of the hearty, comforting Tuscan vegetable soup is excellent for chilly days and foggy evenings. This recipe serves 6.

The only thing better than soup with bread? Soup that not only has chunks of bread in it, but crunchy croutons on top as well. This (vegetarian!) Italian classic is about as comforting as it gets, packed with hearty greens, meaty beans, and plenty of rich olive oil and umami-packed Parmesan. A note on that cheese: If you’ve been throwing out your Parm rinds all these years, that stops right now. The rind is full of flavor, and makes a great addition to any broth-y, stewy situation.

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil, separated
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 whole canned tomatoes, quartered plus some extra juice
  • 2 cups chopped swiss chard
  • 4 cups rough-textured day-old bread, such as ciabatta, ripped into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 Tbsp each chopped fresh basil and cilantro
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Wedge of parmesan cheese for grating

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, cook until transparent, about 5 minutes. Add carrots and celery and cook, stirring often, for 4 minutes. Stir in broth and beans, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer about 15 minutes. Add tomatoes and chard, simmer uncovered another 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lay bread pieces on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toast in oven until slightly golden, about 10 minutes. Set croutons aside.
  3. Just before serving, sprinkle with basil and cilantro, season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Divide soup among serving bowls, top with warm croutons and fresh grated parmesan cheese.