I’m writing from magical New Orleans this morning. I once visited the Crescent City as a child, though my only memories are of walking down Bourbon Street with my mom and Nana seeing scantily clad women standing in doorways. That was long before Hurricane Katrina devastated the city, and resiliency rebuilt it.
Despite not having visited New Orleans or the state of Louisiana in nearly 20 years, I have felt a constant tug to this place. I used to fantasize about raising a family on the bayou in a big creaky chic house, just like the one in the movie Eve’s Bayou. And though I hadn’t thought about it much lately, that home on the bayou still calls me.
As the airplane descended to Louis Armstrong International Airport I started feeling that little tug again. I feel like I’ve left something here, and like I know this place. Perhaps it’s an ancestor’s call or some dream from a previous life. Whatever it is, I intend to spend more time here in coming years. Since the plane touched down on Tuesday, I’ve felt compelled to figure it out.
Zuppa di Fagioli
Today’s blog post isn’t a recipe inspired by my trip to NOLA, but I wouldn’t mind having a bowl of it right now. I made this soup, or somthing very similar, for my last supper club event at my Little Harlem Kitchen. The entire menu was inspired by the flavors and produce of Italy. I made this zuppa di fagioli, a farro salad with arugula pepita pesto and radicchio, a butternut squash lasagna, and sweet potato tiramisu. My type of comfort food!
As temperatures drop I crave hearty soups with lots of starch, flavors, and depth. I love that they can be eaten for any meal of the day, and are especially nourishing for breakfast. I also like how easy a soup like this is to make. Plus, this soup is anti-inflammatory.
I fly back to New York tomorrow afternoon, and though I’m not looking forward to saying goodbye to New Orleans, I am excited to be back in my own apartment where I can settle into my cozy couch with a big bowl of this zuppa di fagioli.
Autumn Zuppa di Fagioli
- 1 large leek green removed, and sliced 1/4-inch thick OR 1 diced yellow onion
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 3 stalks of celery diced
- 1 26- oz box of San Marzano diced tomatoes
- 2 carrots diced
- 2 cups honey nut or butternut squash cubed 1/2-inch thick
- 2 cups fingerling or yukon potatoes cubed 1/2-inch thick
- 1 14- oz can cannellini beans or 2 cups freshly cooked
- 1 cup cooked lentils any but red lentils will do
- 2 vegetable bouillon cubes + 6-8 cups of water or 6-8 cups vegetable stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large rosemary stalk fresh
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp dried chili flakes + more for serving
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 bunch kale chopped, about 4 cups raw (optional)
- 1 loaf Italian bread like ciabatta sliced and toasted at time of serving
- Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in your large heavy bottom pot.
- Add the leek, garlic, and celery, plus a dash of sea salt, and sauté until they begin to soften.
- Pour in your diced tomatoes, and stir well.
- Add the carrots, squash, tomatoes, beans, and lentils. Stir well, and let the vegetables simmer in the tomatoes for 2 minutes.
- Add the bouillon and water (or veggie stock), followed by the bay leaf, rosemary, basil, thyme, fennel seeds, and chili flakes. Stir well, and bring to a boil. If you'd like the soup more soupy add more liquid.
- Reduce the boil to a light simmer, and cook for 30 minutes, or until the hard veggies (carrots and potatoes) are tender. Keep the lid ajar.
- If you are using kale, stir it in for the last 5 minutes of cooking.
- Season to taste with black pepper and sea salt.
- Though I don't usually remove the stalk of rosemary or the bay leaf, be careful they don't end up in your serving bowl.
- Serve the soup with a thick slice of toasted bread and a sprinkle of red chili flakes.
Sherri Reid / January 27, 2022 at 8:12 pm /
I’m throwing out my old pasta fagioli recipe and never using any other fagioli recipe than this one! I am not vegan (just vegetarian) – so I also added parmesan rind to the recipe that adds a really nice depth of flavor to it. I know there is vegan parmesan – but not sure if there is such a thing as vegan parmesan rind — if there is – you might want to give it a try!
Kathy Brumfield / January 15, 2022 at 7:57 pm /
Thank You! I love eating a plant based diet.
Waterfaith / January 9, 2022 at 12:10 pm /
WOW.. I love meat but this soup doea not need meat of any kind. It is packed with flavour. Although i did not add the tomatoes and the kale.. it is wonderful.
Liz W / May 27, 2021 at 5:38 pm /
Where is the kale? When and how much?
Jenne / June 1, 2021 at 5:30 pm /
Looks like I didn’t add it to the original recipe. Will update now to include kale as an option 🙂
Christi Wallander / May 24, 2021 at 6:10 pm /
I just found your You Tube on “BEST Anti-Inflammatory Foods. I’ve had alot of inflammation thru the years. And unfortunately having a hip replaced June 7th. Didn’t know inflammation could do that to the body. Looking forward to embracing this new way of eating. Thanks for all your hard work, cheery attitude, and channel!
Lisa Morgan / November 14, 2014 at 4:39 am /
This soup sounds great, Jenne. Pasta “fazool” without the pasta. 🙂 But what really intrigued me was that mention of sweet potato tiramisu — what?! Maybe you’ll share *that* recipe one day…? All the best, Lisa
Jenné @ Sweet Potato Soul / November 19, 2014 at 3:08 pm /
Oh yes I will share that recipe soon 😉
Elisabeth / November 13, 2014 at 10:54 pm /
I know what you mean about New Orleans! It is a wonderful place that I’ve always felt strangely connected to. I love the easygoing but energetic feel of the city, the people, the history – all so vibrant and fun.
This soup sounds delicious and perfect for the weather right now – there was snow on the ground when I woke up this morning, and I live in the South! I can’t wait to try it.
Jenné @ Sweet Potato Soul / November 19, 2014 at 3:09 pm /
So great to hear from you Elisabeth! I can’t wait to go back to Nola. Such a great place 🙂
Stay warm lady!! xo