I grew up on the east coast where the winters were really cold. My mom would bundle me and my brother up in our coats, scarves and mittens to play outside. She made hearty soups and stews to defrost us when we came inside. I still crave a meal to warm me up from the inside when the days and nights get chilly. However, since I now live in southern California and my mom is still back east, second best to having her make something for me is having one of her recipes that I can make myself. And now you can make it, too.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons thyme, chopped (fresh if possible)
- 2 tablespoons basil, chopped (fresh if possible)
- 4-6 cups vegetable stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup brown rice, uncooked
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1 15-ounce can Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (Be sure to check for preservatives and sodium and buy beans that are canned in water, or even better, cook your own from scratch!)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leafed parsley, chopped
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or large heavy cooking pot over medium heat.
- Add garlic and onions to the pot, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Stir in 1 tablespoon thyme and 1 tablespoon basil until fragrant, about 1 minute. (Save remaining herbs for Step 7.)
- Whisk in about 2 cups of vegetable stock and toss in bay leaves.
- Pour in 1 cup of brown rice and bring to a boil. Stir rice occasionally so it does not stick to the bottom of the pot.
- Once liquid comes to a boil, reduce heat, cover pot, and allow the rice to cook for about 40 to 45 minutes. (Follow cooking instructions per rice you purchase.) Do not remove lid from pot.
- When rice is cooked, add an additional 2 cups of stock and remaining thyme and basil.
- Add Cannellini beans and stir in spinach. Add additional stock as desired for consistency of soup. (I add about 2 more cups of stock.) Cook until spinach has wilted, about 2 minutes.
- Squeeze in lemon juice.
- Sprinkle in parsley.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
The Benefits of Brown Rice (and why I never use white rice):
When it comes to nutritional value, brown rice is the victor here. White rice is basically a big heap of sugar. Why? A whole grain consists of three parts: the outer layer (the bran), the middle layer (the endosperm), and the innermost layer (the germ). The bulk of the nutrition is in the bran and the germ. The endosperm is pretty much just a starchy carbohydrate with very little nutritional value. Brown retains all three parts of the whole grain. White rice only has one. Yep, the endosperm.
Brown rice is rich in fiber and a multitude of vitamins and minerals, such as manganese, which helps your body maximize the energy it receives from protein and carbs and also has antioxidant disease fighting properties. The fiber in brown rice helps slow your body’s absorption of sugar, yielding a steady stream of energy. White rice sends a blast of easily digestible simple sugars into your body. Translation: blood sugar spikes and crashes. No thanks, white rice.