We are one-dish dinner people. If you can combine everything into one bowl and call it a meal, we are very happy. A few weeks ago we found this recipe for a Winter Minestrone in a 2009 copy of Gourmet Magazine. It looked hearty and had quite a few vegetables in the mix. We picked up all the ingredients, arrived home and started chopping. The combination of ingredients cooking made the house smell delightful.
The soup, at one point, seemed a little bland. We decided to add 3 chicken bouillon cubes and it brought the soup together. The next time we make it we will probably substitute chicken broth for 1/2 of the water. We put the ditalini pasta in ours because we like the traditional minestrone with vegetables, beans and pasta. Putting a piece of parmigiano-reggiano into the stock while it cooked was something we had never done before. I had a few pieces floating in my bowl when we were serving and it really rounded out the flavor of the soup. We finished the minestrone with grilled provolone cheese paninis. The soup was delicious and filling. It was a wonderful meal on a cold winter night.
- 1/3 pound sliced pancetta, chopped
- 3 medium red onions, chopped
- 4 celery ribs, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 bunch Swiss chard
- 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice
- 3 quart hot water
- 5 cups coarsely chopped cored Savoy cabbage (6 ounces)
- 5 cups coarsely chopped escarole (1/2 pound)
- 1 piece Parmigiano-Reggiano rind (about 3 by 1 1/2 inches)
- 1 (19-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- Accompaniments: extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling; cooked ditalini pasta tossed with oil (optional); grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Cook pancetta, onions, celery, and carrots in oil in a wide 7-to 9-quart heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, while preparing chard.
Cut out stems from chard and chop stems, reserving leaves. Stir chard stems into pancetta mixture with garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender and begin to stick to bottom of pot, about 45 minutes total. (Set aside chard leaves.)
Push vegetables to one side of pot. Add tomato paste to cleared area and cook, stirring constantly, until it starts to caramelize, about 2 minutes. Stir paste into vegetables and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. (Paste may stick to pot, but don’t let it burn.)
Stir in tomatoes with their juice, breaking them up with a spoon, then add hot water (3 quarts), scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pot.
Bring to a simmer. Stir in cabbage, escarole, and parmesan 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 rind. Season soup with salt and pepper. If using ditalini, stir in just before serving.