Serves 6 to 8
What you need:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic
- 6 cups water
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone ground
- 1 16-ounce can small red beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
- 1 cup diced ripe tomatoes
- 1⁄4 cup oil-cured sun-dried tomatoes, plus more for garnish if desired
- 1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
- 6 to 8 ounces Swiss chard or spinach, well washed, stemmed and chopped
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Handful of basil leaves, cut into strips
- 1⁄2 cup grated mozzarella-style nondairy cheese for garnish (optional)
What you do:
- In a soup pot over low heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic and sauté until golden.
- Add 4 cups of the water and bring to a gentle simmer. Pour the cornmeal into a pot in a thin, steady stream, 1/4 cup at a time, whisking constantly.
- Stir in the beans, zucchini, tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes and seasoning. Cover and continue to simmer gently. Uncover to whisk well every 5 minutes or so, for 25 minutes, or until the cornmeal is cooked. Whisk in 1 cup of water with each of the last two stirrings.
- Stir in the chard or spinach. Cook for an additional 7 to 10 minutes for the chard and 3 to 5 minutes for the spinach, just until tender but still bright green. Adjust the consistency with more water if needed. The soup should be fairly thick, but thinner than a cornmeal porridge.
- Season with salt and pepper. Top each serving with a few strips of basil, a sprinkling of cheese, and a few extra slices of sun-dried tomato.