This is a vegetarian version of minestrone, which traditionally includes some pancetta or bacon. The great trick that makes this minestrone super tasty is the Parmesan rind, and it is one of those grandma's tricks that I love because they were invented at a time when throwing out something that could still be edible was considered a shame and so people found a use for all kinds of leftovers in the kitchen. So, if you have bought a piece of Parmesan cheese and you are left with that dry piece of rind in the fridge, or even if you have a piece of Asiago or Romano that dried out in your cheese box, do not throw it out! Throw it in your soup instead! Then of course discard it before serving the soup, but the rind will add creaminess and flavor and "bring together" your soup so to speak. I used the vegetables that I had at home in that moment but there is a number of variations you can do, according to season and taste. If you want to add pasta, choose the kind called "ditalini" and add at the end of the cooking process.
1 leek (white and light green part, chopped)
2 stalks of celery
2 large carrots scrubbed and chopped
1 medium yellow onion
2 garlic cloves
4 Roma tomatoes
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch of rainbow chard, stems and leaves separated
1 can of Cannellini beans, drained
2 cups of vegetable broth ( or more)
the rind of a hard cheese (preferably Parmesan Cheese)
1 Turkey bay leaf
For this recipe it is important to chop the ingredients quite small and all at about the same size. Chop the first 6 ingredients and the stems of the rainbow chard and toss in a large pot with oil.
Cook over medium heat until the vegetables are soft, stirring to avoid sticking (about 20 minutes).
Add broth and bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low.
Add beans, chard leaves, cheese rind and bay leaf and simmer over medium heat until leaves are cooked through.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Discard rind and bay leaf before serving. It can be served with a splash of extra virgin olive oil.