Tuscan Vegetable Chowder

I love the first days of fall. That touch of chilliness in the mornings and evenings just puts a spring into my step. Fall is my favorite season. I love everything about it -- the trees changing color, the holidays (Halloween! Thanksgiving!), the coziness of it all.

And the food! Fall makes me crave nothing so much as a warm bowl of soup. This Italian "chowder" is easy, filling, and comforting on an autumn evening. And it's a complete vegetarian meal thanks to the textured vegetarian protein (TVP). Yeah, that's kind of a weird, gross-sounding ingredient, but I promise it's great. TVP is just soy-derived crumbles that you can add to anything for lots of protein, and it just tastes like whatever you're putting it in. Which in this case is a bowl full of herby, vegetabley goodness.

 Tuscan Vegetable Chowder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 28 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup dry textured vegetable protein granules (TVP)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic, about 3 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cups kale, chopped
  • 1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste
 Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add onion, carrots, and celery. Saute 5 minutes until onion is translucent. Add broth, tomatoes and their juice, beans, TVP, garlic, and thyme. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in kale, green beans, salt and pepper. Simmer, covered, 10 minutes or until all vegetables are tender. Serves 4.