A few years ago, my mom stumbled across this veggie soup in a Sunset Magazine she was reading. She decided to give it a try even though it really wasn’t the traditional dinner fare she normally prepared. My family members were sold and the dish completely stuck. Now she makes it several times a year.
There is one problem with this soup though. The name. No one knows what the heck it’s called, so usually if one of my siblings is craving it, they generally describe it rather than name it. I’ve heard everything from “That soup with the croutons” to “Mom’s soup with the veggies in it and the croutons on top”. Sometimes it’s quite hilarious what they come up with to describe this oddly named pot of deliciousness. By the way, did you see the theme there? These croutons are clearly the star.
But before I get into that, let me tell you what’s in the soup itself. This is a vegetarian soup with a whole bunch of fresh veggies. Carrots, celery, onion, and swiss chard. Top it off with some white beans, crushed tomatoes and herbs and you will be asking for a refill just as fast as I will.
Now these croutons. They are so easy. Cubed bread, olive oil and salt and pepper. Toast slightly until they are golden brown and crispy, then let them soak up all that tomato broth at the bottom of your bowl.
I made a big pot for this post and had my parents and two of my siblings over for dinner. The croutons were gone before the soup was. An ENTIRE loaf of French bread. Poof. Like magic. Maybe I’ll have to consider two loaves next time. At that point I might as well call it “croutons that soak up all the soup so you can eat it with a fork”.
After I had made the soup, I realized after I put the pot on the table that I had completely forgotten to add salt and pepper. You know what? It really didn’t need it. I wasn’t going to be offended if a sodium addicted eater needed to add it since I had forgotten it completely, but it turned out to not be a requirement. Who knew veggies were so flavorful?
- About 3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 1/2 white onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 medium carrots, chopped into 1/2-in. pieces
- 2 celery stalks, chopped into 1-in. pieces
- 1 1/2 qts. Vegetable broth
- 1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups chopped Swiss chard
- 4 cups rough-textured day-old bread (such as French bread), ripped into 1 1/2-in. pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- Shredded parmesan cheese (optional)
- 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, 5 minutes. Stir in broth and beans, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 15 minutes. Add tomatoes and chard and simmer another 15 minutes, covered.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°. Lay bread pieces on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with remaining 2 tbsp. olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toast in oven until slightly golden, about 10 minutes. Set croutons aside.
- Just before serving, add basil and cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Divide soup among serving bowls and top each with a few warm croutons. Sprinkle parmesan directly over soup if you like.