Sunday, September 30, 2007

Vegetable Minestrone ..... I am so inspired by the cooler Fall weather to share soup recipes.

Vegetable Minestrone
When I visit our daughter in Italy I usually have several wedges of that great Italian Parmesan cheese in my suitcase when I return home. I keep the cheese in my freezer and grate it as I need it. Our daughter Mary told me several years ago that Italians save the rind. When they make soups, the rinds are added for flavor. I have to agree it does add a wonderful flavor.
1 bunch Swiss chard, rinsed thoroughly
4 medium tomatoes
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained, divided
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced into 1/4" dice
2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/4" pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups shredded savoy or green cabbage
1 can (14 1/2 ounce) chickpeas or garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
3 to 4 inch Parmesan cheese rind
4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
About 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, cut stems from Swiss chard leaves by making a V cut into the leaves around the stem. Finely chop stems, cut into ribbons, and set both aside separately.
Boil tomatoes for 30 seconds. Lift out with a slotted spoon and rinse under a very cold water. Remove the skin with a paring knife or vegetable peeler. Cut tomatoes into quarters, remove seeds and chop. Set tomatoes aside.
Whirl half of cannellini beans with 1/2 cup of water in a blender until smooth. Set bean puree aside.
Cook olive oil and garlic in a large pot over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add carrots, zucchini, reserved chopped chard stems, and salt. Cook, stirring until stems are tender, about 5 minutes. Add white wine and cabbage. Cook stirring, until cabbage wilts, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add reserved chard leaves, remaining cannellini beans, the chopped tomatoes, bean puree, chickpeas, Parmesan rind, and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cook until all vegetables are tender and flavors blend, about 15 minutes. Remove Parmesan rind. Serve soup hot topped with shredded Parmesan cheese.

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