Monday, December 27, 2010

Winter Minestrone Stew

My apologies for the long absence since my last post! Between traveling for Thanksgiving, our two-week honeymoon to Australia and New Zealand, and Christmas, I haven't been as active in creating or posting recipes. This soup I actually threw together the day after we got back from our honeymoon. We loved the food in New Zealand (I gained a lot of inspiration for food/flavor combinations that I am looking forward to experimenting with) but after two weeks of 3-course dinners every night, we were ready for a healthy but hearty meal. This technically is not a minestrone soup since it doesn't contain pasta, but the flavors are very similar. Plus, given how stocked full of vegetables that this stew is, I couldn't even fit pasta in it if I wanted to! This is now my favorite way to make minestrone and the best part is it tastes even better the next day. I am presenting this recipe a little bit differently to make preparing it the most efficient - chopping certain components as you go along rather than all ahead of time.

Winter Minestrone Soup
Serves 6-8

Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion
4 ribs celery
3 carrots
1 bunch red or rainbow chard
4 cloves garlic
1 T. tomato paste
28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes (such as San Marzano)
4 c. low-sodium vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
1/2 Savoy cabbage
Parmesan rind (optional)
15 oz. can cannellini beans
15 oz. can red kidney beans
Kosher salt
Freshly grated parmesan cheese, for serving

Dice the onion, celery, and carrots. In a large dutch oven or stock pot (I used a 5.5 qt dutch oven and just barely fit everything), heat 1 T. olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery, and season with 1/2 t. kosher salt and 1/8 t. pepper.

Meanwhile, separate the chard ribs/stems from the leaves. Dice the ribs/stems and set the leaves aside. Add the chard stems to the pot, stir to combine, and saute until softened, about 10 minutes.

Mince the 4 cloves of garlic and add the garlic to the pot, cooking for 2-3 minutes more.

Add the 1 T. tomato paste, stirring to combine. Add the can of tomatoes, vegetable stock, and the bay leaves. Bring the heat up until the soup reaches a low boil.

Meanwhile, chop the chard leaves into thin strips. Add to the pot, stirring to incorporate. While the chard is wilting down in the pot, remove the core from the 1/2 head of cabbage and also cut into thin strips. Add to the pot, stirring to incorporate, as well as the parmesan rind, if using.

Add 1 T. kosher salt and 1/2 t. pepper. Reduce heat to simmer and let simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Rinse and drain the beans, add them to the pot, and simmer, covered, for an additional 15 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning - I found that I needed to add another 1/2 t. kosher salt. You may also want to try to break up a few of the whole tomatoes with a wooden spoon if they have not done so naturally through the cooking process.

Ladle into bowls and top with parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

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