Dinner, Healthy, Soups / Stews

Winter Minestrone

Have you noticed that it’s absolutely freezing outside? To top off this classic New England bundling-up season more snow is in the forecast for tomorrow. Unfortunately it wont be enough to grant me a long weekend snow day but it will be just enough slippery white stuff to make it impossible to wear cute shoes. On the plus side this also undoubtedly means that a hat will be in order so there wont be any reason for me to even attempt to do my hair in the morning. That means I can sleep longer! If you’re looking for me on Friday please note that I’ll be the unkempt girl in the cute blue coat wearing very ugly winter boots.

As you can see from my above comments snow in New England can lead to a number of positive and negative personal outcomes. However, one of the more outstanding effects of weeks and weeks of cold weather is the comfort food that you will inevitably find bubbling on stove-tops and browning in ovens. In short, the colder it gets, the better the food becomes and all manner of soups, stews, and hearty casseroles keep us all sane and cozy from November through March.

While I’d certainly prefer to eat a steaming hot plate of gooey macaroni and cheese topped with buttery bread crumbs, it is the New Year, so we all have our own personal demons to battle…or at least for the next 2 or 3 weeks.  To that end I thought it would be best to share a delicious and wholesome minestrone recipe with you. I originally was introduced to this dish while watching Giada De Laurentiis’s holiday special and let’s face it — if it’s good enough for Giada it’s good enough for me.

Winter Minestrone
Originally published by Giada De Laurentiis

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped2 celery stalks, chopped
3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 pound Swiss chard, stems trimmed, leaves coarsely chopped
1 russet potato, peeled and cubed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed, divided
2 (14-ounce) cans low-sodium beef broth, divided
1 (1-ounce) Parmesan rind
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

In a large, heavy stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, pancetta, and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the Swiss chard and potato. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and rosemary sprigs. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the chard is wilted and the tomatoes are very soft, about 10 minutes.

In a food processor or blender, combine 3/4 of the beans with 1/2 cup of broth. Blend until almost smooth. Add the pureed bean mixture, remaining broth, and Parmesan rind to the vegetable mixture. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potato pieces are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the remaining beans and the parsley. Simmer until the beans are heated through and the soup is thick, about 2 minutes. Discard the rosemary stems (the leaves will have fallen off) and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.