I don’t know quite how it happened, but today’s accidental soup is one of the best I’ve ever made. I just started pulling things that needed using out of the fridge and freezer, and dug around the pantry and about a half hour later, Leandro and I were slurping in happy ecstasy….Please note that the vegetable juice is a key element (a trick I learned from Cook’s Illustrated magazine) in getting a lot of veggie flavor that is more complex and not as sharp as straight-up canned tomatoes.
Tip for the peasants among us who hate waste and love flavor: if you are like me, you use a lot of real parmigiano reggiano and/or gran padano cheese. This leaves you with a lot of rinds after the grating is done. I save the rind in a plastic container in the fridge and drop it in the pot towards the end of cooking tomato-based soups like this one or minestrone. It lends a lot of richness, but must be removed before serving as it is not meant for eating!
Chard and White Bean Soup
2 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
½ cup celery, chopped fine
4 oz bacon, coarsely chopped (you can skip this for the vegetarian version)
8oz. chard, thoroughly washed, stems removed (and reserved for a later stir fry or sauté), chopped
16-24 oz low sodium vegetable juice (like V-8)
2 cups water
1 cup ditale or other chunky short pasta
15 oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley (or 1 Tbs dry)
leftover parmigiano/gran padano rind or several tbs good grated cheese
Salt to taste
In a soup pot heat olive oil on medium high until fragrant, add onions, stir and lower heat. Sauté until wilting, then add celery and sauté until softened. Add bacon (if desired), raise heat and cook through, stirring occasionally. Add chard and sauté until wilting. Add vegetable juice, add two cups water, bring to a boil, and add pasta. Lower heat to a vigorous simmer. After 10 minutes, add beans and parsley and parmigiano rind, if you’ve got. You may need or wantto add more water. Heat through, adjust salt if necessary, test pasta and serve (with generous amount of grated cheese, if you didn’t have rind) with crusty bread.