Most everyone starts the year off eating better. “To eat healthier,” “lose weight” or “get in shape” are one of the top new year resolutions we all make. Not surprisingly, everywhere I go lately, someone is telling me that they or someone they know and love are doing a cleanse, started juicing, jumped on the South Beach diet or are focusing on eating better.
In honor of helping keep everyone on the “wagon,” I am making a Swiss Chard and Cannellini Bean Soup in a Parmesan Broth to celebrate. It’s rich and hearty, but totally good for you.
I came across this utterly simple and healthy recipe in Saturday’s “Off Duty” section of the Wall Street Journal. (If you don’t get the WSJ, why not treat yourself to this impressive newspaper every Saturday? It’s loaded with well-written articles about world and national news, business and marketing and the “Off Duty” section is all about lifestyles. The layout is refined and elegant and it’s always chock-full of both interesting and useful info.)
Last Saturday’s feature story was “A Guide to Loving Winter Greens” and you know how I like greens. The story included eight recipes from the nation’s top chefs on ways to use greens. Kale, chicory, Swiss chard, collards and mustard greens.
Yes, I loved all the recipes, but when I read that this particular one was submitted by Sara Jenkins, chef of Porchetta (a critically-acclaimed sandwich shop) and Porsena (dedicated to all things pasta and located just a few blocks from Porchetta) in New York, making this soup was as close as I could get.
Luckily, a magnificent bunch of Markley Family Farm Swiss chard begged to come home with me at Saturday’s New Braunfels Farmers Market and the reality of eight gorgeous Parmesan rinds in the freezer made this dreamy soup a reality. (Both Central Market and Whole Foods sells the rinds as well. But if you don’t save your Parm rinds, now is a good time to start.)
Many thanks to Sara and this healthy and hearty soup that will help us keep our resolutions–or at least until I can get to the city and enjoy a porchetta sandwich and then all bets are off.
Parmesan Broth with Swiss Chard and White Beans
- 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 5-8 ounces Parmesan rinds I only had 8 Parm rinds which weighed 5 ounces
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
- 4 cups loosely packed Swiss chard stems removed and leaves cut into ribbons
- 2 cups cannellini beans I used 1-15 oz. can, which I strained and then rinsed with water several times
- kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/2 lemon juiced
- crostini optional for serving
- Shaved Parmesan for plating
Rather than throw away the Parmesan rinds, toss them in a bag and store it in the freezer. You can toss in a Parm rind to enhance the flavor of any soup or use all of them to make this Parmesan broth.
Over low heat, steep 8 cups stock of your choice with 5-8 ounces Parmesan rinds for about 45 minutes, until the rinds are soft. Strain the liquid and reserve. The rinds can be thrown away.
While the broth is cooking, clean the Swiss chard well, remove the stems and cut into ribbons.
In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, saute 1 smashed garlic clove in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat just until the garlic begins to color. Add 1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes and 4 cups loosely packed Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves cut into ribbons. Stir to coat.
Add the warm, strained stock and 2 cups canned cannellini beans and bring to a simmer.
Allow the flavors to meld and cook for about 15-20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add a teaspoon lemon zest and the juice of half a lemon and stir to combine. Cook another 2-3 minutes.
To serve, ladle soup over a slice of toasted country bread, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle some freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top and a dash of kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper.