Summer’s End Vegetable Soup

This is a lovely soup to have on hand those beginning autumn days when the air starts getting chilly, but you still have an abundance of veggies from the summer harvest. Of course, you can always change up the vegetables all through the year and use whatever’s in season.

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1 pound cannellini or other white beans, soaked overnight then simmered with a few sage leaves, or konbu, in water to cover, until tender — drained

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 pound zucchini, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
4 cups chicken broth (more if soup is too thick for you at the end)
1 bunch Swiss chard or kale, or 2 bunches mature spinach, trimmed, washed thoroughly and chopped
1/2 head green cabbage
6 large tomatoes, chopped, or 2 15-oz or 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes (I like the fire-roasted kind, but regular will do)
2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
A leftover cheese rind, if you have one (to make it creamier) — optional
Your favorite cheese, grated — I used Swiss Gruyere for this one, but Parmigiano or Pecorino will do just as well (optional for those avoiding dairy — I’d sub a small bowl of sea salt flakes like Maldon for serving, so people can help themselves)
More olive oil for serving, in a bowl with a spoon, or a pourer so people can help themselves

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, celery and carrots. Cook, stirring often, until carrots are partly tender, about 10 minutes. Add zucchini pieces and broth. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Once it reaches the boil, bring down to simmer and cover 5 minutes. Add Swiss chard or kale, cabbage and tomatoes, and cover again. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour. If soup looks too dry, add a bit more broth. When veggies are tender, add beans. Season with salt and pepper, and the cheese rind if using. Cook 15-30 more minutes, stirring every few minutes, until all veggies are tender and the entire mixture is creamy. Adjust seasonings if necessary.

Serve hot!

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