Comfort in a Bowl: Roasted Tomato & White Bean Stew

Soup is such a comfort. It’s a gift to warm body and soul. On these cold winter nights, it’s what I crave. I have found that soup is one way to give and receive love. That’s how this recipe came to us.

In mid December, my husband’s dad was in the hospital in another state struggling in the final days of his life as his body fought COVID-19. I updated my colleague, Jenny, on the status of things as we were texting about work related topics. She replied with well wishes and kind thoughts as we were scheduled to Face Time his dad that afternoon, ultimately to say goodbye, since with Covid-restrictions we couldn’t see him in person. Jenny wrote that “in the absence of physical, proximal nourishment I thought I’d send along two recipes we have tried and loved lately. They are warming and comforting and I hope that for you and your sweet people.” I wept, of course. She spoke to my heart and my loves of comforting and feeding my people.

It was so thoughtful that she sent this recipe recommendation through a text. I needed the inspiration.

We ended up gathering the ingredients and making it the next day. The day my father in law died. And it did bring comfort- with its warm, bright and special qualities, and feeling the love from our community. It was comfort in a bowl that night.

It’s called stew. I would call it soup. Maybe because it’s thicker it’s named “stew”. It’s from The New York Times, so you know it has to be good. It has a chopped parsley and lemon zest topping that you swirl in when served that is delightful!

Roasted Tomato and White Bean Stew

From the New York Times

Doubling this recipe is encouraged, as it doesn’t make too much and the process is more worth it when you can feed a crowd and/or have left overs. Leftovers, In my opinion are one of the greatest benefits of making soup.

½ cup roughly chopped Italian parsley leaves and tender stems

2 tsp. lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)

2 (10-ounce) containers cherry or grape tomatoes

¼ cup olive oil, plus 2 Tbsp. and more for drizzling (optional)

1Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves

 Kosher salt and black pepper

1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes

2 (15-ounce) cans white beans (such as butter or cannellini), rinsed

1 ½ cups vegetable or chicken broth, or water

 Flaky salt, for serving (optional)

  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, gently toss together the parsley and lemon zest with your hands until well combined; set aside.
  3. In a large baking dish or on a sheet pan, toss the tomatoes with 1/4 cup oil and thyme; season well with salt and pepper. Roast tomatoes until they have collapsed and begin to turn golden around the edges, 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. When the tomatoes are almost done roasting, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large (12-inch), deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium. Add the onion, garlic and red-pepper flakes and cook until the onion is softened and the garlic is fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the rinsed beans and broth and bring to a simmer. With the back of a spoon or spatula, gently smash about ½ cup of the beans so they slightly thicken the broth. If you want a thicker stew, crush some more of the beans. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. When the tomatoes are finished roasting, add them directly to the stew along with any juices that have been released. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes more so the flavors become friendly; season to taste with salt.
  6. Ladle into shallow bowls. Top each serving with some of the lemon-parsley mixture and drizzle with some more olive oil, and season with flaky salt, if you like. Serve with toasted bread.

Wishing you bowls of comfort and friends who know you well.

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