I come from a long line of people who spent most of their time in the kitchen. I used to perch on a stool and watch with reverence as my mom confidently buzzed around our counters. Usually I’d get roped in when she planned and cooked dinner for hundreds at community events. She was always such a confident cook, and I’m always a little intimidated when I cook for her.
But when she had double knee-replacement surgery, all I wanted to do was feed her. After a few debilitating months of pain and recovery, she’d lost a lot of weight and found it difficult to eat while taking pain medication. She is a former hippie and Mollie Katzen devotee (The Enchanted Broccoli Forest is the first cookbook I ever saw), and I knew she would want to maintain her mostly vegan diet. This recipe had all the calcium, iron and protein she needed to recover, all in one hearty bowl.
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium shallot, diced
- 2 large carrots, trimmed, peeled and diced
- 1 14.5 oz. can crushed tomatoes (spiced, if possible)
- 1½ cups flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 tbsp dried basil or ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
- 3 cups hearty pasta, like orecchiette
- 12 oz. canned butter beans
- 12 oz. canned cannellini beans
- 1 pound Swiss chard, deveined
- 2 quarts vegetable broth
- smoked paprika, salt, cumin, all to taste
Boil salted water for pasta and cook until al dente. (Slight undercooking is important, so the noodles don’t get soggy when you add them to the broth.) Drain and set aside. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Heat olive oil in the soup pot, and sauté onions and garlic until translucent. Add some of the spices to the oil to infuse extra flavor, and let cook about one minute. Add carrots, tomatoes and broth, and bring to a boil while the carrots soften. Add the beans. Cook until all ingredients are combined and hot. Add parsley and basil, and simmer for 10 minutes. Finally, add the pasta, heat through and serve immediately. Serves 8-10; good for leftovers.