Tuscan Chard and White Bean Soup

New York is beginning to shed its winter woolies and unearth the rich bounty of spring. This week at the Farmers’ Market there was an abundance of Swiss Chard in the rainbow variety. With temperatures hovering around the 40’s-50’s, I was inspired to make a  soup that would showcase early spring vegetables, and this recipe for Tuscan Bean Soup from cooks.com was the perfect start. I’ve modified slightly to increase the number of servings and added my own touches. This is the perfect pick-me-up for this rainy April afternoon. Enjoy!

Tuscan Chard and White Bean Soup

Ingredients
2 bunches (2 lbs) Swiss Chard or Kale
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 large Onion, chopped
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 quarts Chicken Broth
1 quart water
1 (26 oz) container of Tomatoes, chopped (with juice)
2 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
2 carrots, sliced rounds
Bouquet Garni of: 1 sprig Rosemary, 1 sprig Thyme, 1 Bay Leaf
Coarse Kosher Salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 cans (31 oz) Cannellini beans, drained
1/2 c. uncooked Orzo pasta
1/4 c. flat-leaf Parsley, rough chopped

Optional: grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese and Italian Bread

1. Wash Swiss Chard in several baths of cold water to clean dirt and sand. Chop the stalks into 1/4″ cubes. Slice leafy greens into 1/2″ ribbons. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in large dutch oven or saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute for 30 seconds. Then add garlic and saute until onions are translucent but be careful to not brown the garlic.

3. Add chard stalks, carrots, bouquet garni, pepper, and tomato paste and saute for an additional 2 minutes.

4. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

5. Stir in pasta, beans, and chard tops. Return to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

6. Add parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese and a crusty loaf of bread.

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