Several months of winter starts to induce a degree of laziness in me. Fortunately, this coincides with cravings for simple soups that take little effort to make but warm and comfort the body and soul. This particularly soup was inspired by the presence of several parsnips in the crisper, remnants from a previous recipe which I had been too lazy to make use of before! Simple as this soup is, it is colorful, hearty and delicious and is just the thing to share on a cold winter evening.
Rinse the white beans under running water and soak overnight covered in several inches of cold water with a little yogurt whey or lemon juice added. Drain and rinse, then transfer to a large saucepan and add 6 cups of fresh water and a bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour or until the beans are just tender. Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat a large saucepan or soup pot over medium heat. When hot, toss in the olive oil, wait a few moments, then swirl around to coat the pan. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes or until the onion turns translucent. Add the garlic, parsnips, potato, carrots, jalapeño and green beans, and sauté for 1 minute. Toss in the paprika, thyme and cumin, stir for 1 minute to coat the vegetables, and then pour in the white beans with their cooking liquid. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Remove from heat and discard the bay leaf. Season with salt and plenty of fresh ground black pepper to taste. Serve hot in bowls with a spoonful of chopped chives on top.