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Minestrone – – fall beckons

minestrone

Minestra is an Italian word for “soup” similar to “zuppa.” MinestrONE refers to a BIG soup. Sometimes all vegetable, but in this case I incorporated pancetta. I also placed grilled pieces of ciabatta at the bottom of the bowl for extra texture. Perfect for fall and winter weather.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped, with leaves preferred
  • 3-4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or pasted
  • 1 pound Swiss chard, stems trimmed, leaves coarsely chopped
  • 1 russet potato, peeled, cubed
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained, rinsed
  • 1 32 oz. can of chicken stock
  • 1 Parmesan cheese rind
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • Kosher Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Optional: cut crusty bread into cubes and sauté in a cast iron skilled drizzled with olive oil until crispy

Procedures

Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, pancetta, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the Swiss chard and potato; saute for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and rosemary sprig. Simmer until the chard is wilted and the tomatoes break down, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, blend 3/4 cup of the beans with 1/4 cup of the broth in a processor or an immersion blender until almost smooth. Add the pureed bean mixture, remaining broth, and  cheese rind to the vegetable mixture. Simmer until the potato pieces are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Stir in the whole beans and parsley. Simmer until the beans are heated through and the soup is thick, about 2 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste. Discard Parmesan rind and rosemary sprig (the leaves will have fallen off of the stem.). Optional: place grilled bread cubes at bottom of bowl and ladle soup over the top. Drizzle the top of soup with extra virgin olive oil and grate extra cheese on top, if desired.

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