This is a very simple, tasty, inexpensive, nutritious and quick meal, using whatever beans, greens and pasta we may have on hand. You may use tinned beans and frozen greens, small pasta or larger sized or even rice, millet, quinoa or cous cous. Ultimately, this recipe should serve as an inspiration to explore combination of flavours, textures and foods.
I used a jar of white French beans, fresh spinach (not the baby spinach, but the full grown leaves and stems, well rinsed) and fregola, a type of pasta from Sardegna, made with semolina and toasted in the oven. I happened to have fregola in my cupboard because I like keeping lots of different types of pasta. But any type of pasta will do (or even rice, millet, quinoa or cous cous). It should be on the smaller scale so that it will fit on a spoon, and even breaking up raw spaghetti will achieve that.
Recipe serves four or two with plenty of leftovers for repeat dinner later in the week.
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 2-3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
- 1-2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 2-3 small tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 850ml jar of white French beans or two cans of whatever beans you have on hand (and keep the brine – aquafaba – because you will use it in the soup)
- 1 cup (raw) fregola or other small pasta/rice/cous cous
- 2 packed cups chopped leafy greens, whether spinach, kale or other green
- one stock cube, optional
- smoked tofu or leftover seitan, cubed, optional and quantity to taste
- soy sauce or tamari, optional and used instead of stock cube and seitan
- salt, pepper, nutritional yeast and olive oil (can be oil free)
Pour a glug of olive oil in a deep saucepan over medium flame. If you do not wish to use oil, then have water handy to water-sauté.
Sauté the onions and the celery until soft (10-15 minutes). Add the garlic and let it get lightly brown.
While sautéing, cook the pasta. Just before draining it, reserve a mugful of the pasta cooking water. It will add a nice flavour to the soup.
When the onions and celery are soft, crumble the stock cube into the saucepan, add two cups of water, the tomatoes and mix well. Let the water come to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer. If you are adding smoked tofu or have leftover seitan, add that to the saucepan now. If you have neither seitan nor stock cube, then add two tablespoons of soy sauce of tamari. These ingredients add umami to the dish alongside the tomatoes, onion and celery.
Once the tomatoes have softened significantly, add the pasta, reserved pasta cooking water, beans with brine and the greens. If you are using fresh greens, cook them only until they wilt. If you are using frozen greens, then cook them until they are thoroughly warmed. Mix well and taste for seasoning.
When I cooked the fregola, I let it cook a bit less so that it was very al dente when I added it to the pot. The fregola continued to cook and absorb water as it married into the soup (see photo below). Any type of pasta will do that to varying degrees.
Serve the soup hot with liberal sprinklings of nutritional yeast and pepper. This soup keeps well.
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