But the fire is so delightful…
When I first moved out to Colorado, people thought that I was moving to the arctic tundra. Surprisingly, Colorado winters are not too bad. Denver enjoys 300 days of sunshine per year. When it does snow, it usually does not stick around for more than few days because the sun melts it faster.
This winter has been very dry and much warmer than usual. Denver recently had a cloudy, overcast week end with a high around 20 degrees.
When the weather is gloomy with cold temperatures, staying inside and enjoying some lazy time makes for a good afternoon--especially while a pot of minestrone cooks.
Minestrone is a rustic Italian soup which literally means "big soup." There is no set recipe for minestrone because it is usually made with the vegetables in season. This version includes pancetta along with some winter veggies. Giada De Laurentiis is my favorite Food Network chef, and one of my favorite Giada tips has been to keep cheese rinds in the freezer, instead of discarding them. You can use the cheese rinds to add flavor to recipes. By adding the cheese rind to this soup, this hearty soup is infused with a very light buttery flavor.
There's nothing like a big warm bowl of soup on a cold winter day! This soup is so simple and so filling.
Yields 6 servings
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
4 oz. diced pancetta
2 garlic gloves, minced
1 lb. Swiss chard or kale, leaves coarsely chopped
1 russet potato, peeled and cube
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 tsp. dried rosemary or 1 fresh rosemary sprig
1 15-oz. can cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
32 oz. beef broth
1 Parmesan cheese rind
2 tbsp. fresh Italian parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, pancetta, and garlic. Sauté until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.
Next, add the Swiss chard and potato; sauté for 2 additional minutes. Add the tomatoes and rosemary. Simmer until the chard is wilted and the tomatoes break down, about 10 minutes.
Blend 3/4 cup of the beans with 1/4 cup of the broth in a food process until nearly smooth. Add the pureed bean mixture, remaining broth, and Parmesan cheese rind to the vegetable mixture. Simmer until the potato pieces are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Add in the whole beans and parsley, and stir.
Simmer until the soup thickens, about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Before serving, discard the Parmesan rind and the rosemary sprig (if you used fresh rosemary). Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with some toasted bread drizzled with olive oil.
Source: Giada De Laurentiis via the Food Network