Saturday, January 31, 2015

Winter Minestrone

    When it's cold and snowy outside, a nice, hearty bowl of soup is quite welcome on my table.  And this Winter Minestrone definitely fits into that category!  Loaded with veggies and a rich tasting broth, this soup is the perfect choice to warm you up on a cold, wintry day!  And......this soup has a little secret!

    Are you ready for this?  Whenever I get down to the rind on my wedges of Parmigiano Reggiano, I put them in a Ziploc bag and throw them in the freezer.  Then, when I'm making a soup or a stew, I drop a piece of  cheese rind into the pot. As the soup simmers, the rind adds a rich, salty, cheesy goodness to the whole thing.......yummy!

    So, when the temperatures start to plummet, get a big pot of this soup going on the stove.  And don't forget to serve it with some crusty bread alongside!

     Minestrone is, basically, a thick Italian soup made with lots of vegetables and the addition of beans or pasta. There are countless variations but, for this version, here's what you'll need:

     (sorry, forgot to add the Italian parsley to the picture.)

Winter Minestrone  (serves 6-8)
3 tblsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
4 ounces pancetta, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound swiss chard, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
1 Russet potato, peeled and cubed
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can diced tomatoes in juice
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
32 oz. low-sodium beef broth
1-2 oz. piece Parmesan cheese rind
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

The first thing I like to do is get all of the ingredients prepared and ready so I can just add them when it's time.  Do all of the washing, peeling, chopping, mincing, draining, etc. and have everything ready to drop into the pot.
**Hint: After cubing the potatoes, place them in a bowl of water to keep them from turning brown.  Then, before adding them into the pot, just drain off the water.

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat.  Add the pancetta and let it start to brown and crisp, about 5 minutes.

 Now, add the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic.  Saute for about 10 minutes or until the onion is translucent.

Add the swiss chard and potatoes and saute for 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes in their juice and the rosemary sprigs.  Let the pot simmer until the chard is wilted and the tomatoes break down, about 10 minutes.

While that's simmering, blend 3/4 cup of the cannellini beans with 1/4 cup of the beef broth, in a food processor until almost smooth.

Now, add this pureed mixture, the remaining broth, and the Parmesan rind to the vegetables.  Let the soup continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potato cubes are tender, anywhere from 15-30 minutes, depending on the size of the cubes.

Stir in the rest of the beans and the Italian parsley.  Simmer until heated through and thick, about 2 more minutes.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste. (Discard the rosemary stems....the needles will have fallen off.)

Now, ladle  this "pot of comfort" into bowls and serve with some grilled bread, muffins, cornbread, or whatever else you might enjoy!  Personally, I love to take a nice, charred piece of grilled bread and use it to mop up all the delicious broth! (Grating some more cheese over the top doesn't make me sad, either!)   Deeeeelicioussss!!!

For printable recipe, click here.

Recipe adapted from "Giada's Family Dinners" by Giada De Laurentiis. 

1 comment:

  1. Made this for dinner tonight.....below freezing, single digit temperatures outside makes for a great soup night! Yummmm!! I was forced to use bacon after I couldn't find pancetta at 3 different stores, but it was still DELICIOUS!! THANKS, Joann!! :)