My Sunday newspaper, The Boston Globe, has quite suddenly appeared with a new food writer, Adam Reid, and a fantastic photographer, Jim Scherer. Sundays are no longer a day of lazy feet-up and browsing , no sir. Lately I take one look at the featured recipe and race into the kitchen. This Sunday was no different.
I'd just gotten some fresh chard at Saturday's farmer's market and was racking my brain trying to think of what to make. And there it was. Not a minestrone, but a glorious soup called a minestra, which highlights just a few ingredients, among which were handfuls of chard, cups of cannellini beans, a tumble of rosemary and garlic. The original recipe underwent the usual modifications, but in small ways. While squinting at the photograph, I swore I saw bits of tomato, so I added some, even though it wasn't mentioned in the article. I had no anchovies, nor did I have parmsesan rinds, unless I wanted to drive 25 miles and back. I was fired up to get to the stove, so I skipped them, though they sound delectable. Next time.
Adapted from a recipe by Adam Reid
Minesta with swiss chard, white beans, and rosemary
3/4 cup peeled, diced carrots
4 T. olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onions and leek whites, if you have
6 cups water and/or chicken stock, or both
3/4 cup chopped swiss chard stems
2 T. chopped rosemary
3 cups cannellini white beans ( I made my own) or drained, canned white beans
2 1/2 cups chopped chard leaves
2 bay leaves
5 fat cloves garlic, minced
salt and freshly cracked pepper
4 chopped canned plum tomatoes
1 t. dried basil, or 1 T. chopped fresh basil
Please note: The garlic, rosemary, chard leaves, and white beans are added at two different times in this recipe, so don't let it trip you up.
In a large pot, heat the olive oil.
Add the onions ( and leeks, if using) and carrots and cook, stirring, about 6 minutes.
Add half the garlic and rosemary, and the bay leaves and cook for just a minute.
Add the water/stock and raise the heat, so the soup is simmering.
Add half the beans and half the chopped chard leaves and simmer.
Reduce the heat and cook for about 40 minutes.
Pick out the bay leaves, stir in the chard stems, the remaining beans, the chopped tomatoes, and salt , basil , the rest of the rosemary and garlic, and freshly ground pepper and cook until the chard stems are tender.
Stir in the rest of the chard leaves and cook another few minutes.
Taste before adding more salt and pepper.
Ladle into bowls and drizzle each bowl with a little olive oil.
Serve with a hunk of parmesan and a grater - oh! And crusty bread or rolls.
This would be a wonderful soup to freeze for a surprise winter dinner or brunch, don't you think?