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Friday, January 8, 2016

Minestrone Better than in Italy!

       Ring in the New Year with this extravagant soup!

January for many of us means taking off those extra pounds we've put on over the holidaze.  Moreover, New Year's resolutions often include recommitting to living a healthy lifestyle with routine exercise and healthy eating.  This soup fits the bill perfectly for weight loss and health.  Oh, yeah...did I mention that it is outrageously good?

Chocked full of flavor, this take on an Italian vegetable soup promises to please even the most discerning gourmet.  To add a little more richness, I throw in my Christmas turkey carcass.  If that's not an option, you can also add just a turkey leg.  For absolutely killer complexity, add a smoked piece of meat (preferably chicken or turkey, however, a piece of lean smoked pork would also work.)

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 lb. pancetta, finely chopped
  • 3 medium onions, chopped
  • 6 celrey ribs, chopped
  • 1/3 cup EVOO
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 28 oz can of chopped or whole tomatoes, including juice
  • 3 Qrts water
  • 5 cups of Savoy cabbage, coarsely chopped
  • 5 cups of escarole, coarsely chopped
  • 1 head of parsley, chopped
  • 1 piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano rind
  • 2 cans of cannellini beans, including their liquid (19oz cans)
  • Optional:  grated Parmigiano-Reggiano & chopped basil

Directions:

Cook pancetta, onions, celery, and carrots in oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat, stirring only occasionally so that vegies develop some carmelization.  In the meanwhile, cut out stems from chard and chop stems (set aside chopped leaves for later).  Stir chard stems into pancetta mixture with garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt and 3/4 teaspoon of pepper.  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until tender and begins to stick to bottom of pot (about 45 minutes.)

Push mixture to side of pot, adding tomato paste to cleared area. Cook, stirring constantly until paste begins to carmelize (about 2 minutes.)  While paste may stick to pot, don't let it burn.

Break up tomatoes and add them and their juice.  Add water, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot.  Bring to a simmer.  Stir in cabbage, escarole, parley and cheese rind.   Simmer, covered, until green are tender (about 30 minutes).

Add chopped chard leaves and beans to soup, simmering partially covered about 10 minutes.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste.  For a splurge, add to top of soup bowls grated cheese and freshly chopped basil.

This recipe easily serves 10.  With El Nino bearing down, the soup is a perfect healthy treat for a cold and rainy winter's night.

Buon appetito!


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