Before the winter weather goes away for good, do your family a favor and make this delicious minestrone soup that not only tastes good, but does good, too. Filled with a rainbow of veggies, including carrots, tomatoes, and superfoods kale and swiss chard, this soup will warm your belly and keep you healthy! Swiss chard is rich in vitamin B, which has been shown to fight cognitive decline, and kale is rich in phytochemicals, which are associated with the prevention of cancer, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. In this soup, they add a delightful crunch and flavor well worth the few hours it takes to prepare. Make this for your family and they’ll be singing your praises!
Adapted from The Fine Art of Italian Cooking, Giuliano Bugialli
8 ounces dried cannellini beans
1 slice prosciutto or pancetta (vegetarians and vegans: this can be omitted)
1 large red onion, minced
1 celery rib, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 cup Italian parsley
½ cup olive oil
½ small head Savoy cabbage, chopped
1 ½ bunches kale, cleaned and chopped into small pieces
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into small squares
1 cup canned tomatoes, drained and seeded
1 small bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and cut into small pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Soak the dried beans overnight in a bowl of cold water. The next day, drain the beans and cook them in a large pot with 2 quarts of salted water and the prosciutto or pancetta. As the beans absorb water, keep adding enough hot water to maintain about 2 quarts of liquid at the end of the cooking time. Cook for one hour, then let sit on stovetop in pot.
Saute onion, celery, garlic, carrot, parsley, salt and pepper in the olive oil in a Dutch Oven or large stockpot for about 12 to 15 minutes. Add the cabbage, kale, and potato to the stockpot. Then add tomatoes, smushing them with your hands as you drop them in the pot. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, adding a little bean liquid every now and then if it’s looking dry. Then add Swiss chard.
Remove the prosciutto from the beans. Scoop out about 1 cup of beans with a strainer or slotted spoon and set aside. With a handheld mixer, blend the remaining beans in their pot, then pour bean puree into the stockpot with vegetables, stirring to combine. Simmer together for about 15 minutes more until heated through. When you are ready to serve, add the reserved whole beans. Add salt and pepper.
Ladle soup into bowls and serve with crusty bread, freshly grated Parmesan and a healthy drizzle of good quality olive oil.