PlatedColor-Soup3"When we over obsess with where we want to be, we underestimate the potential of where we are" - Charlotte Gambill. List of things I want to learn, become, do, see, make…growing. But for now, I'm slowing down with soup. A warm pot of aroma smells like sustainable and easy dinners for the next few nights. Soup is slow to cook and somehow consumption helps me slow down too. I'm so thankful a dear friend of mine shared this recipe with me. From across state lines, we sometimes cook meals "together" and share how we alter ingredients over texting in real time. Feeling connected through miles apart. A sweet thing.

PlatedColor-Soup4 PlatedColor-Soup1PlatedColor-Soup12For this recipe, I omitted rosemary, because, well I didn't have any. Here is what you'll need to make Valerie Aikman-Smith's White Bean & Vegetable Soup from her book, "Cooking in Cast Iron."

INGREDIENTS: + 1/4 cup olive oil +2 cloves garlic, finely chopped + 2 shallots, finely chopped + 2 carrots, sliced + 1 leek, white part only, sliced + 2 stalks celery, sliced + 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (I used a bit more) + 2 tbs fresh thyme leaves + Sea salt and cracked pepper + 3 cups roughly chopped spinach (I used fresh spinach from Norton Family Farms from the Franklin Farmers Market) + 6 large tomatoes, chopped + 2 tbs tomato paste + 1 can white navy beans, drained & rinsed + 4 cups vegetable stock (See how to make from scratch here) + Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling + Grated Parmesan cheese for serving (Makes 6-8 servings)

How to make: In a large pot or cast iron dutch oven, over medium heat, warm the olive oil with the garlic, shallots, carrots, leeks, and celery. Sauté until brown. Add red pepper flakes, thyme, and salt and pepper. Add the finely chopped spinach and stir until wilted. (Less than 2 minutes). Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and beans. Then pour in vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered (the wonderful smell!) for about 25 minutes.

PlatedColor-Soup5PlatedColor-Soup6PlatedColor-Soup2PlatedColor-Soup7 PlatedColor-Soup9 PlatedColor-Soup8PlatedColor-Soup10 PlatedColor-Soup11This was such a fun & challenging post to photograph. I hope you enjoy the photos and are inspired this Valentine's Day weekend to cook up a warm pot for you & your loved ones. I'll be spending the weekend visiting my Gram & Pop Pop in the mountains of West Virginia. Cheers! xoxo.