Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dinner Party: Winter Minestrone

Hot soup is always a comfort. Whether you're sick with the flu or simply trying to beat the winter chill, even a can of hot condensed soup will do the trick. But this soup... this is no meager can of chicken and stars. This soup is hearty.

With its large chunks of carrot, celery, and potato and the creamy cannellini beans, this soup is almost more like a stew, and it'll keep hunger at bay for hours. The pancetta adds a deep, savory flavor that takes this dish from a decent vegetable soup to a flavorful work of art. Serve with a hunk or two of crusty bread and you've got a hearty, comforting meal, that I'd wager would even melt the icy heart of the abominable snow man.

Winter Minestrone

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound Swiss chard or spinach, stems trimmed, leaves coarsely chopped
1 russet potato, peeled and cubed
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 fresh rosemary sprig
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 14-ounce cans low-sodium beef broth
1 ounce piece Parmesan cheese rind
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, pancetta, and garlic. Saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the Swiss chard and potato, and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and rosemary sprig. Simmer until the chard is wilted and the tomatoes break down, about 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, blend 3/4 cup of the beans with 1/4 cup of the broth in a food processor until almost smooth. Add the pureed bean mixture, remaining broth, and Parmesan rind to the vegetable mixture. Simmer until the potato pieces are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Stir in the whole beans and parsley. Simmer until the beans are heated through and the soup is thick, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the Parmesan rind and rosemary sprig (the leaves will have fallen off by this point). 
3. Ladle into bowls, and serve!


  1. I love homemade soups! Christian had some out of a can yesterday and sat there after the first bite. When I asked him what was wrong, he shrugged and said "No where near as good as your soups ma." I love that kid! Anyways, I will be trying this one, as I am always looking for new family favs that are tasty and good for you! Thanks Jess, and i am so sorry I miss it!!!

  2. That's exactly the kind of home-cooking mama I want to be some day. Chris is totally right... you're ruining those boys for the wives they'll have someday! :)

  3. HAHA, maybe they'll wanna learn to cook and I can show them! Or maybe their mama's liked to cook too!


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