It seems almost wrong to post a recipe for minestrone. It's a soup you improvise, never making it the same way twice. But this version turned out so incredibly delicious that I had to write it down. The secret is using an entire bundle of chard--leaves and stems. The stems are finely diced and sauteed with the vegetables, while the leaves get wilted into the pot towards the end. The result is a hearty, ultra-comforting soup, with a subtle beetlike sweetness from the chard stems. —ieatthepeach
chard (about 3/4 lb), washed and patted dry
olive oil, plus more for drizzling
medium yellow onion, diced
large celery stalks, diced
medium carrot, diced
Salt to taste
garlic cloves, minced
Large pinch of crushed red chili flakes
15 oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
Parmesan rind (optional)
chicken stock or vegetable broth
water, plus more as needed
green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
Cut the chard stems away from the leaves. Finely dice the stems, and cut the leaves into 1-inch ribbons. Set aside.
In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, and diced chard stems, along with a pinch of salt. Sweat for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are beginning to turn translucent. Add garlic, chili flake, basil, and oregano, and cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant.
Add kidney beans, crushed tomatoes, bay leaf, Parmesan rind (if using), broth, and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, or until the soup is starting to coalesce. If the soup starts to get too thick, add another splash of water.
Add green beans and Swiss chard leaves, and continue simmering for another 15 minutes, or until the green beans are just starting to get tender. Add pasta, increase heat to medium-high, and boil for 10-15 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente. Remove bay leaf and Parmesan rind, and discard them.
Ladle the soup into bowls, and top each bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of grated Parmesan. Serve immediately. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days, or in the freezer for 4-6 months.