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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Minestrone To Warm the Soul

We moved to Southern California for warm weather so let me confess right now that I'm not a lover of the cold.  That being said, the recipe below has certainly helped to ease the the chill of winter nights.  Moreover, it has one of my can't-seem-to-get-enough-of veggies, escarole.  How could something so simple (less than an hour of active prep time), so low in calories (terrific diet-food after the holidays), and so nutritious (lots of vitamins and fiber), taste so yummy?  This one ticks all of the boxes for scrumptious and healthy.

NOTE:  If you want a more filling soup you can add pasta or potatoes.  Also, if you still have your turkey carcass in the freezer, it can be added to boost flavors.  If you really want to be decadent, drizzle pesto on the top before serving with a sprinkle of grated Parmigiano.   (Serves 8)

  • 1/3 pound sliced pancetta, chopped
  • 3 medium red onions, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1/3 cup EVOO
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 28-ounce canned tomatoes
  • 3 quart hot water
  • 5 cups coarsely chopped cored Savoy cabbage
  • 5 cups coarsely chopped escarole 
  • 1 piece Parmigiano-Reggiano rind (about 3 by 1 1/2 inches)
  • 2 (19-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained 
  • salt & pepper

Cook pancetta, onions, celery, and carrots in oil in large heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally while preparing the chard.

Cut out stems from chard and chop the stems, reserving leaves for later.  Stir stems into pancetta mix with garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until all veggies are tender and begin to stick to bottom of pot (about 45 minutes).  

Push veggies to side of pot, then add tomatoes paste to cleared area and cook, stirring constantly until paste begins to caramelize (a couple of minutes).  Stir paste into veggies and cook, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes---do not let paste burn. Stir in tomatoes with their juice, breaking them up with a spoon.  Next, add hot water, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pot.

Bring to a simmer.  Stir in cabbage, escarole and add the cheese rind.  Simmer, covered, until greens are tender about 40 minutes.  Coarsely chop chard leaves and stir into soup along with beans.  Simmer, partially covered, 10 minutes.  Discard ring. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Buon Appetito!

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