I have a confession to make.
I almost never liked soup growing up.
My mother is a big fan of The Broth-y Soup, which I am not. I remember her saying once, in this ‘can you believe it?’ tone, that “When your Dad makes chicken soup, he puts these big hunks of chicken in it!” I stared. And said something like “Uh, Mom, I LIKE it that way.” She looked at me. “Oh.”
Clearly we inhabit different soup universes.
The only soup my mom made that I really liked was ham-and-lentil, or (occasionally) split-pea-with-ham. It was thick instead of thin and had that lovely ham flavor, and it wasn’t spicy, like the other thick soup (read: chili) my mother made. (Well, okay, realistically that wasn’t spicy either. But as a child I was really, REALLY sensitive to heat. Which, yes, I still kind of am, but I was worse as a child.) We almost never had milk-based soup, because my sister is lactose-intolerant, so it was broth-y or spicy most of the time, and I was not a fan.
Fast forward twenty years? I LOVE soup, from a menu point of view. It’s generally got the veggies in it already, so you make soup, you make some sort of bread, you’ve got a meal. Easy-peasy. And I’ve discovered soup recipes that I really like. I still don’t make the broth-y kind much, and I haven’t made chili in years (this might have something to do with my oldest throwing up chili–every 15 minutes–at my mother-in-law’s house at a fairly young age. It was the middle of the night, and there was general unpleasantness everywhere. It kind of puts you off of the food involved.), but I experiment with a range of soups, and we have several staples at our house. (Also a few I loved but the kids couldn’t stand; it happens.) My oldest loves pretty much any soup with ham in it, and she’s generally willing to eat other kinds, unless there’s a speck of some kind of heat somewhere, ANYWHERE in the recipe. (Gee, I wonder where she got that from?) My youngest is too young to be anything but a nightmare where soup is concerned, and anyway, he can’t talk well enough to offer an opinion. My middle, on the other hand…
That’s another story.
She HATES soup. HATES it. Corn chowders? Ham and lentil, or ham and bean? Any variety of potato? No, thank you. This isn’t necessarily surprising, since she’s my pickiest in general, but her feelings about soup are especially strong. Which is why this recipe for Tuscan Bean Soup is so amazing, because, my friends–she likes it. LIKES it. As in, this is the only soup I think I have ever served that I haven’t had to partially FEED HER MYSELF. (She’s four and a half, by the way. This is not a capability issue.) And it’s lovely. I substitute basil for the thyme–no one in my house loves thyme, including me) and use Great Northern beans (they’re easier to find here); I also double it and just use a whole can of Italian diced tomatoes, because really, isn’t that so much easier? It also makes enough to freeze that way, which is why it was such an easy dinner to make tonight (minus the annoyance of the floating ice burg you always get when you thaw soup). I’m also not picky about the kind of ham I use–leftover, deli ham, whatever. It still tastes great. You can add a sprinkle of Parmesan to each bowl, but I think I actually prefer it without. (And ANYONE who knows me knows that pigs everywhere took to the sky after that sentence came out of my mouth–er–off of my keyboard.) It’s even gluten-free, for those who need it (I know this because I heard about this recipe from my friend with celiac.) So go, my friends, and make soup.
Even my middle likes this one.