Chard, Pumpkin and White Bean Soup

Perhaps I'm a backwards cook - I see a lot of menu plans on blogs and sites, but rather than start with a wish list and shop for it I work from what's available, what called to me in the produce aisle, what appeared in my weekly veggie box delivery, and develop the meals from that. Google is my friend in this too, offering up recipes and flavour combinations for the most seemingly random crisper contents.

We are home from the whirlwind Christmas/child's birthday/friends and family visiting period a few days early, owing to our intended New Year's Eve hosts coming down with a stomach bug (hope you're all feeling better!) with a lot of heavy, meaty, cheaty foods in our bellies and nothing fresh in the house. Late on the Friday of a holiday weekend there's not much appealing left in the produce section of a standard supermarket, but chard stands up to pretty much anything, and pumpkin too. A soup I'd seen ages ago suggests itself, but it's a long-simmered option so we grabbed some sausages to fry up for dinner (served with the sauerkraut I whacked together before we left from veggies I couldn't take with us - successfully fermented [yay!] but super-duper-unpalatably salty) and I tossed together the molasses custard (recipe to be posted soon) the kid and I had been dreaming of for dessert (and this morning's breakfast - hey, it's eggs!) before we unpacked, checked that recipe again, and collapsed into bed.

Searching for "soup chard chorizo" produced  options with some similarities:
  • Swiss chard (and/or kale, spinach or another green)
  • chopped carrots, celery, onion/shallots and garlic
  • white beans
  • some kind of spicy preserved meat (for umami and fats to make the veg vitamins more absorbable)
  • broth
I can live with that. The four recipes I started from were at Smitten Kitchen, The Food network, Epicurious, and Well Fed, and I would encourage you to check them out for their unique variations. Some call for tomato in one form or another, others insist on fennel.

Being New Year's Eve day, and a pyjama day after too much travelling, my version was destined to be a slow-cooker (crock pot) soup. With pre-prep to do for this evening's (private) festivities and tomorrow's breakfast, I'm going to assume that the benefits of flavour layering by pre-frying the onions and chorizo are overrated. 4 to 6 hours on high, and a healthy, clean, legal and reasonably cheap soup stands before us promising energizing nourishment, no digestion nap required.

Chard, Pumpkin and White Bean Soup
  • Chard, washed, spines removed and sliced into fine crosswise ribbons 
  • 3" wide wedge of muscat squash (any orange-fleshed pumpkin or sweet potato would do), in small cubes. Probably 2.5 cups worth
  • 1 large can of large white beans*, well rinsed 
  • 1 white onion, chopped 
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, chopped fine 
  • 6 pucks of freezer-section kale 
  • 2" worth of paprika salami, cubed 
  • 1 bay leaf, good sprinkle of herbed sea salt and grind of pepper
  • 1+ Tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 sad-looking chicken leg out of the back of the freezer, because there's no ready-made stock in the house. Remove before serving
*No, beans are not paleo. From the can, they're not even WAP. They will raise my carb intake for the day, they will likely have undesirable digestive effects, and they will "beef up" an otherwise thin soup, making it more filling so the pot will last for Monday lunches. We all make our compromises.

If you did click over to the inspiration recipes, you'll notice that stale bread and parmesan shavings are often served with this soup, and the parmesan rind can be cooked in the pot to contribute to the thickening of the broth. That's a cheat too far for me, but sounds appealing for those of you who swing that way.

Fireworks will be observed with prosecco and accompanying crème fraiche blinis and caviar, and smoked salmon with dill on pumpernickel rounds (again, pushing the limits of paleo with potatoes and dairy, but all home-made and within my 20%. My salmon will be on blinis to keep me grain-free). These are round, rich foods, symbolising coins and thus prosperity to come.

To those of you who have borne with me through my fits-and-starts, topically peripatetic blogging to be reading this, I wish you a satisfying celebration tonight. May it find you in the place, and with the people, you most enjoy. May your celebration feed your soul's need for reflection and promise, and your belly's need for nourishment without punishment.


  1. if that's backward, then I am very much a backward cook too! I just buy what catches my eye at the market, and then i get home and look at everything and get excited and start cooking with what I've got/start googling to see what people have done with the same things!

  2. I think being excited about your food must raise its nutritional value - very wise! ;)