Tuscan Vegetable Soup

Serves 8. Adapted from The Strang Cookbook for Cancer Prevention, by Laura Pensiero and Susan Oliveira (Dutton, 1998).

3 cups cooked or canned chickpeas
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
3 medium celery stalks, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large red onion, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 bunches Swiss chard or turnip greens, cleaned
1/2 head Napa cabbage
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
2 fresh rosemary sprigs, (leave on stem)
One 14 1/2-ounce can diced plum tomatoes, drained
6 cups vegetable broth
5 ounces stale French bread or baguette, sliced (about 3/4 loaf)
salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, saute the garlic, celery, carrots, and onion in the olive oil for about 20 minutes, stirring often so the vegetables do not brown.
  2. Cut out the tough triangular inner core of the Swiss chard leaves and slice them into 1/2-inch slices. Add to the vegetables in the saucepan. Tear or slice the Swiss chard leaves and set aside.
  3. Cut cabbage in half lengthwise. Cut out the core and discard. Place the cabbage, flat side down, on a cutting board. With a large chef’s knife, slice across the cabbage at close intervals forming long, ribbonlike strips. Set aside with the Swiss chard leaves.
  4. Add the parsley, rosemary sprigs, and tomatoes to the saucepan and cook at a low simmer for 15 more minutes.
  5. Add the vegetable broth and as much cabbage and Swiss chard as the broth will hold, adding more as the greens wilt. Add half of the chickpeas . Simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Puree remaining chickpeas in a food processor and add to the soup with just enough boiling water or stock to keep the soup liquid. Remove the rosemary sprigs. Add the bread slices. Add more liquid if necessary, but keep in mind that the soup should have a very thick “stew like” consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.