You might recall I recently mentioned the Swiss chard in my garden had turned into a scene right out of Jack & The Beanstalk–I had more than I knew what to do with. I considered stuffing it, sauteing it with a little garlic and I even toyed with the idea of Swiss chard chips. But in the end I went with one of my favorites–Swiss chard soup with white Tuscan beans. This soup is like a little trip to Italy–for my taste buds, at least.
Don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you away. I just kept adding and tasting and adding and tasting. I’ve even gotten better at measuring and writing down what I’m doing so when I share with you I can be a little more accurate.
But as far as measuring, you know I’m not a big believer. I’ve even convinced Jeff, one of my co-workers, that cooking is like creating art–you have to follow your instincts. Hey, if it doesn’t work you can always order a pizza.
So here is my road map to a delicious bowl of soup. You can follow mine or have fun making up your own.
- 1 lb. Swiss chard, stems removed cut into small pieces
- 2-3 Tbs olive oil
- 1 cup onions, roughly chopped
- 1 cup carrots, roughly chopped
- 1 cup celery, chopped
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup Vermouth (or white wine)
- 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 2-15 oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups beef broth–more if needed
- 1 ham hock
- rind of Parmesan, roughly 3 inches big
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1-2 large fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- pinch Kosher salt
- 1 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
- black pepper, to taste
- 2 tsp Cantanzaro Herbs*
Turn the heat up to high and pour in the Vermouth. Deglaze and scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Reduce heat to medium.
Add chicken broth, beans, tomatoes and the ham hock. Stir and add the Cantanzaro spices, salt, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, pepper and the Parmesan rind. When the soup is done cooking you’ll remove the bay leaf and the thyme stem–the leaves will be in the soup without any work on your part.
Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes. Add the lemon juice and stir again.
Add the Swiss chard.
Add 1 cup beef broth and simmer for 30 minutes. Then add 1 more cup of beef broth and simmer for another 15 minutes.
This is the part that you have control over depending how thick you want your soup. I actually kept adding a little broth every 10 minutes as the soup simmered on medium low heat until it was the consistency that I like. Oh..it makes a whole lot of soup so you can invite all your friends for dinner.
So, as I always say, have fun in the kitchen and turn this roadmap into your own.
And one last thing before I sign off–welcome to my newest readers in Cote d’Ivoire, Hungary and France. Thanks for joining me. And special thanks to my great assistant, Patricia who said it was her favorite soup ever!