There isn't much that's cozier than a bowl of soup in the winter, but soup in a bread bowl has got to be the coziest! And this healthy Panzanella Pasta Soup is my version of the famous Tuscan bread salad, but in soup form! Did you know there is actually science behind why soup is so comforting?
This vegetarian soup is loaded with fresh, healthy veggies, then simmered with red wine, balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, lots of fresh basil and penne pasta. It's all served up in a cozy sourdough bread bowl and topped with homemade croutons, capers, reduced balsamic vinaigrette and even more fresh basil! Pure comfort in a bowl....
Chilly winter days are perfect for cozying up with a steaming bowl of hot soup. It's really no surprise that soup is among "stew" and "comfort food" as the most searched up food terms on google in January. There is just something so comforting about soup in the winter - it really warms you to the core. Actually, I was actually a little shocked that these terms even beat out "healthy recipes" as the most popular search terms in January. Although the great thing about this Panzanella Soup is that you get the best of both worlds - cozy, comforting soup that's also super healthy!
Soup is Comfort in a Bowl
According to Psychology Today, the strong association between soup and comfort hasn’t been lost on researchers. Studies show the link between soup and a sense of well-being. Our brains seemed to be primed to make a connection between physical and social warmth. Apparently even eating hot soup may increase feeling of positivity towards your fellow man, even extending towards others you may view as culturally different from yourself. And since soup is often associated with being cared for, the food alone may conjure up those feelings of comfort. You can read more HERE.
Soup in a bread bowl
My son was recently looking at my blog in his cooking class at school and told me that he was disappointed I didn't yet have this Panzanella soup in a bread bowl posted. He thought it was really cool and so delicious that he wanted to show his cooking group. So I thought that it was about time I shared this recipe!
However, I need to forewarn you that there is some time investment in making this soup. Like my husband's amazing Healthy Pumpkin Soup, it has to be cooked, then pureed to get the thick and rich texture without having to add cream or additional calories. Trust me though, it's totally worth it! And cooking soup is just so cathartic on a cold, winter day!
I'm a self-professed meat girl and although I love my meat, I don't necessarily want or need meat with every meal. My kids are also becoming very environmentally conscious and are deliberately trying to eat less meat. But this vegetarian soup is so hearty, thick and filling that I promise, you won't even miss the meat!
So, if you're in the mood for some comfort in a bowl, snuggle up and give this Panzanella soup a try!
And if you're looking for another cozy vegetarian soup, then check out my Lentil Spinach Soup!
Panzanella Penne Soup
- food processor or blender
- 227 g box penne pasta
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ large red onion finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 red pepper chopped
- ½ orange pepper chopped
- ½ yellow pepper chopped
- ½ long English cucumber chopped
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 4 tbsp fresh basil finely chopped
- 28 oz -can of chopped tomatoes
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup red wine * I use Cabernet Sauvignon
- 4 small sourdough loaves * I bought these in Sobey's bakery section
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- bread from inside loaves cubed
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- capers * about 2 tsps
- croutons (see croutons) *a couple tbsps
- reduced balsmaic vinegar * a couple squirts
- fresh basil leaves 3-4 leaves
- Cook pasta as per directions then set aside.
- In a 6 quart soup pot on medium heat add olive oil, garlic, red onion, red pepper, yellow, orange peppers, ½ the basil and cucumber. Sautee until softened (about 10 minutes).
- Add tomatoes and vegetable stock, remaining basil, Dijon mustard, wine, balsamic vinegar, crushed red pepper and parmesan cheese.
- Boil on medium for about 20 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
- Puree soup in small batches using a blender or food processor. * Be sure to only fill up the food processor or blender ½ way or you will be splashed with hot soup!
- Return to pot and stir in cooked pasta. Continue cooking for an additional 10 minutes on medium -low.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
- Cut about a ½ inch off the top off the sourdough loaf of bread with serrated knife.
- Scoop out bread, making it hollow BUT be sure to leave it at least a 1- 1.5 inches thick on the inside.
- Using a basting brush, brush olive oil on the inside of the bread bowl, dividing oil between all 4 bread bowls. Make sure you use enough to cover the inside of all the bread bowls (not the lids)- you may need to use a little more *This creates a seal, ensuring whatever you put in the bread bowl will not leak out .
- Bake bread bowl on prepared baking sheet for 15 minutes, until golden on the inside. Remove from oven, fill with soup and garnish!
- Cube as much bread as possible from the insides of the loaf (see croutons below).
- *Save the remaining bread crumbs in a freezer bag for future use.
- Heat oil in a separate large frying pan over low-medium heat. Add bread cubes and sprinkle on salt. Cook, tossing occasionally, until golden. Set aside
- Top with capers, croutons, fresh basil leaves and reduced balsamic vinaigrette, if desired.