Winter Minestrone

Dec 21st

Do you feel enormous? Because I do. Too many eating out opportunities and too many COOKIES. I feel puffy.

Maybe you feel lithe and energetic. If this is the case, keep up the good work. For my fellow puffers, I have one word for you. Soup!

Broth based soup is low-calorie, filling, and chock-full of nutrients. When you make it yourself you can control the sodium level and can customize it to your taste. Just make a big pot of soup on Sunday and eat it for a few lunches and/or dinners throughout the week. When you’re being good for most of your meals, you feel a lot better about splurging on some of your meals.

The obvious star in this soup is the swiss chard. One cup of cooked swiss chard has 30 calories, 214% of your needed vitamin A, 53% of your vitamin C, and 22% of your iron. Those stats are CRAZY good. If you can’t find/don’t have it, you can sub spinach or really any dark, leafy green.

Besides the puffy factor, soup is a great place to start if you’re a new cook. You will find that you can put almost anything into chicken broth and it will taste like soup. This minestrone is essentially just a fantastic, rich, vegetable soup. It doesn’t have any pasta in it which makes it even lower in calories. It uses beef broth which is something you may not have on hand, but if you’re desperate to make this and don’t want to brave the grocery store, just use chicken.

The fresh rosemary makes a big difference in flavor, as well, and it’s less than two bucks at the store. Also, if you don’t have a parmesan rind just omit it from the recipe and add plenty of grated parmesan before serving.

Tomorrow is the first official day of winter. Celebrate it with some Winter Ministrone!

Winter Ministrone

Adapted from Giata De Laurentis

Serves 4-6

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

3 slices bacon, cooked and chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press

1 lb. (or large bunch) Swiss chard, stems trimmed, leaves coarsely chopped

2 large red skin potatoes, cubed

Kosher salt (about 1 tsp.) and freshly ground black pepper

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice

2 fresh rosemary sprigs (or 2 tsp. dried rosemary)

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 c. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

 Parmesan cheese for serving

To cook bacon easily ahead, layer on paper towels on a dinner plate. Cover with paper towels. Microwave 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

1. In a large, heavy stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat.

2. Add the onion, carrots, celery, bacon, and garlic.

3. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.

4. Add the Swiss chard and potato. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes.

5. Stir in the tomatoes and rosemary sprigs. Bring the mixture to a boil. There won’t be a lot of liquid to “boil”, so don’t worry. You DO want to see bubbles down there where there IS liquid, though.

6. Reduce the heat and simmer (small bubbles breaking the surface, heat should be on low), about 10 minutes.

7. In a food processor or blender, combine 1 c. of the beans with 1/2 cup of broth. Blend until almost smooth. When a recipe says “drained and rinsed”, just toss the canned beans into a strainer/colander and rinse with water until you no longer see bubbles.

8. Add the pureed bean mixture, remaining broth, and Parmesan rind to the vegetable mixture.

9. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potato pieces are tender, about 15 minutes.

10. Stir in the remaining beans and the parsley. Simmer until the beans are heated through and the soup is thick, about 2 minutes.

11. Discard the rosemary stems and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

Winter Minestrone

Adapted from Giata De Laurentis

Serves 4-6

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

3 slices bacon, cooked and chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press

1 lb. (or large bunch) Swiss chard, stems trimmed, leaves coarsely chopped

2 large red skin potatoes, cubed

Kosher salt (about 1 tsp.) and freshly ground black pepper

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice

2 fresh rosemary sprigs (or 2 tsp. dried rosemary)

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 c. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

 Parmesan cheese for serving

1. In a large, heavy stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat.

2. Add the onion, carrots, celery, bacon, and garlic.

3. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.

4. Add the Swiss chard and potato. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes.

5. Stir in the tomatoes and rosemary sprigs. Bring the mixture to a boil.

6. Reduce the heat and simmer (small bubbles breaking the surface, heat should be on low), about 10 minutes.

7. In a food processor or blender, combine 1 c. of the beans with 1/2 cup of broth. Blend until almost smooth.

8. Add the pureed bean mixture, remaining broth, and Parmesan rind to the vegetable mixture.

9. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potato pieces are tender, about 15 minutes.

10. Stir in the remaining beans and the parsley. Simmer until the beans are heated through and the soup is thick, about 2 minutes.

11. Discard the rosemary stems and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve, topped with parmesan cheese.

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