Rustic Italian Bean and Vegetable Soup

Rustic Italian Bean and Vegetable Soup
Northern Italian winters may not have the frigid weather that we have here in Canada, but Mediterranean soups are as warming and comforting as anything you could want when the temperatures are plunging outside. The delicious flavors in this thick and hearty winter soup come from nothing more complicated than an assortment of vegetables simmering with tomatoes and beans with just a little garlic — nothing could be simpler or more satisfying. Served hot with a loaf of fresh crusty bread on the side, and you have the perfect meal for the coldest nights.

The other secret to this and many other Italian soups is the addition of a Parmesan cheese rind during the simmering time of the soup to lend depth and flavor to the broth. It's a great way to use what you have left over from grating fresh Parmesan or any other hard aged cheese, the rinds can be refrigerated or frozen for later use, and some grocers and delis will sell the rinds separately. Of course, you can omit the rind if you wish the soup to be vegan, and even though I had fresh grated Parmesan on hand I chose to garnish my portions of the soup with my homemade vegan Parmesan.

Rustic Italian Bean and Vegetable SoupRustic Italian Bean and Vegetable Soup
Recipe by
Cuisine: italian
Published on February 15, 2021

A simple, hearty, nourishing and delicious rustic-style Italian soup with beans, vegetables and Swiss chard

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

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  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium potato, diced
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  • 1 green or red chili (optional), seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems and leaves separated and roughly chopped
  • 1 28 oz (800 mL) can whole tomatoes
  • 3 cups cooked cannellini (white kidney) beans or romano (borlotti or cranberry) (1 cup dried or 2 14 oz cans)
  • 1 Parmesan rind (optional)
  • 4 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
  • 3/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese or vegan Parmesan for garnish
  • Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. When hot, toss in the potato, onion, carrots, celery, Swiss chard stems, garlic, and chili if using. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened but not browned — 8 to 10 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, pour the contents of the canned tomatoes in a strainer over a bowl. Crush the tomatoes with your hands, reserving the liquid from the can and tomatoes in the bowl.

  • When the vegetables have cooked, add the tomatoes — but not the tomato liquid — to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the beans and Parmesan rind if using, and pour in the tomato liquid and the vegetable stock or water. Bring to a simmer and add the Swiss chard leaves. Stir for 3 to 4 minutes until wilted.

  • Remove from heat, discard the rind, and stir in the salt. Taste for seasoning and serve hot with fresh grated Parmesan on top of each bowl and fresh crusty bread on the side.

Makes 4 to 6 servings
Rustic Italian Bean and Vegetable Soup
More hearty and warming Italian soups from Lisa's Kitchen:
Hearty Italian Bean and Pasta Soup
Italian White Bean and Kale Soup
Lentil Minestrone with Swiss Chard and Arborio Rice
Tuscan-Style Pinto Bean Soup with Kale

Audio accompaniment: Mount Shrine x Z.E.R.O. : LATIN ALL-STARS

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