During this time of year, all we think about is cozying up with a big bowl of soup for dinner. Soup is one of those near effortless meals that’s flexible enough to work with whatever ingredients you have on hand. It warms you up, and it makes for a delicious lunch the next day. This recipe came about from one of our clean-out-the-fridge experiments. And it turns out you people love soup as much as we do! After the countless requests that came streaming in, we finally got around to testing and writing up a proper recipe. So get your bowls ready: the Veggie Bean Soup with Roasted Lemon is finally here.
This soup is a weeknight rockstar that packs a lot of flavor into a single bowl. The broth is studded with garlic and thyme, it has a hint of spice from the red chili flakes, and the roasted lemon adds a bright acidity that makes this soup anything but boring. Citrus is in season during our winter months, so while we’re absolutely not craving any ice cold lemonade (brrr), we can definitely get behind warm, roasted citrus. If you’ve never roasted citrus before, now’s your time. It’s super simple: while the soup cooks, you toss some halved lemons on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven. The lemons will soften and emerge juicy and slightly caramelized. The juice’s flavor is slightly sweeter (and slightly less pucker-inducing than raw), perfect for swirling into soup.
Standard veggie soups often lack enough substance to actually keep you full - and we don’t know about you, but we’re not into meals that leave us hungry a mere hour later. This Veggie Bean Soup with Roasted Lemon, on the other hand, means business. It features a combination of canned beans and pasta. Not only does this make for a quick cooking time, but they also combine to form a vegetarian/vegan-friendly complete protein. And as if that’s not enough, the vitamin C in the lemon juice helps your body absorb more nutrients (like iron) from the kale. See?! We weren’t kidding.
Since this recipe cooks up relatively quickly for a soup, it is important to select a good-quality vegetable stock. The stock forms the base of this soup, so do make sure to pick a good one for optimal flavor. This is our favorite go-to vegetable stock, but pick whichever one you like best. We like the creaminess and flavor of romano beans in this recipe. They may often be sold/labelled as borlotti beans or cranberry beans. If you can’t find them, you can substitute pinto beans instead. Orecchiette noodles are awesome in this soup, because they’re the perfect balance of sturdy yet still soft. However, you could try a different type of small pasta noodle instead. Just remember that every noodle shape has a slightly different cook time, so do be sure to adjust accordingly. This soup is completely delicious on it’s own, but like most soups, can be served with whatever carb-y sides your heart desires. We’re always looking for excuses to bring home a fresh baked loaf of sourdough, so there’s no shame in the bread game.
Veggie Bean Soup with Roasted Lemon
- 2 lemons (each cut in half)
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil)
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 ribs celery, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (see note 1)
- 6 cups vegetable stock (see note 2)
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1½ cups dried orecchiette (or similar pasta, gluten-free if needed)
- 1 (15 oz/14 fl oz/398 ml) can romano beans, rinsed (see note 3)
- 1 bunch lacinato kale, thinly sliced
- Black pepper (to taste)
- Chopped flat-leaf parsley (for garnish)
- Crusty bread (for serving, optional)
- Preheat: Put a rack in the lower-third of the oven, and preheat to 475°F (245°C).
- Bake lemons: Place the lemon halves face-down (cut side down) on a baking sheet. Bake on the lower rack until the cut sides are golden brown on the edges, about 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Start soup: Meanwhile, heat grapeseed oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add celery and carrots, sauté until they start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, salt, red pepper flakes. Sauté, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add vegetable stock, thyme, and bay leaves. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil.
- Cook pasta (in soup): Then, add the pasta to the boiling soup. Stir well to mix. Cook uncovered for 3 minutes less than the package instructions. Add the beans, and cook until pasta is al dente.
- Finish soup: Remove and discard the thyme stem and bay leaves. Add kale, stir until wilted. Remove from heat. Carefully squeeze the roasted lemons, one at a time, until you have ¼ cup lemon juice (remove seeds if there are any). Stir lemon juice into the soup (keep the remaining unsqueezed halves for serving). Add pepper to taste (and more salt, if needed). Garnish with parsley and extra lemon halves. Serve with crusty bread if you'd like.
- Red pepper flakes: If you don't want a bit of heat, cut the amount of red pepper flakes in half or leave out entirely.
- Vegetable stock: The flavor of the vegetable stock is quite important here! Use your favorite. We love Better than Bouillon Organic Seasoned Vegetable Base.
- Romano beans (substitute): Romano beans may also be called Borlotti beans or Cranberry Beans. If not available, substitute with pinto beans or kidney beans.