Vegetable Soup with White Beans

This was submitted by Betty Sullivan

This soup is bursting with colorful vegetables, herbs, and white beans in a rich, tomatoy broth. It is a meal in a bowl with a long-cooked, hearty taste that can be made in about 30 minutes. Served with some crusty whole-grain bread, you have a perfect, ultra-satisfying meal.
(Serves 6)

2 cans15.5 ounce cans cannellini or other small white bean, drained and rinsed.
1 Tbspolive oil
1/2 largeonion, diced (about 1 C)
1 mediumcarrot, diced (about 1/2 C)
2 stalkscelery, diced (about 1/2 C)
1 smallzucchini (about 1/2 lb), diced (about 1 1/2 C)
1 clovegarlic, minced (about 1 teas)
1 Tbspchopped fresh thyme or 1 teas dried
2 teaschopped fresh sage or 1/2 teas dried
1/2 teassalt or to taste
1/4 teasfreshly ground black pepper or to taste
4 Clow-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 can14.5 ounce no-salt diced tomatoes, with their juices
2 ouncesbaby spinach leaves (2 C lightly packed), chopped
1/2 Cfreshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. In a small bowl, mash 1 can of the beans with a masher or the back of a spoon or fork and set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, zucchini, garlic, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil.
4. Add the mashed and whole beans and the spinach leaves and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes.
5. Serve topped with the parmesan, if desired.