After a week of dreary winter weather including snow and freezing temperatures, nothing hits the spot like comforting soup simmering away on the stove. One of my favorite soups is Winter Minestrone Soup with Pancetta. Minestrone soup is an Italian soup featuring in season vegetables and basically whatever else you have left in the refrigerator…kind of like a hodgepodge of ingredients. This version is different in that it does not have the typical pasta and rice included but focuses on winter vegetables and some added pancetta for depth of flavor.
Winter Minestrone Soup with Pancetta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled, shaved, and chopped
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pound Swiss chard, stems trimmed, leaves coarsely chopped (I prefer red stemmed for the color)
- 2 cups gold potatoes, chopped (optional to peel or not)
- 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 2-3 fresh rosemary sprigs tied in kitchen twine
- 2 (15-ounce) cans while beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 (14-ounce) cans low-sodium beef broth
- 1 ounce piece Parmesan cheese rind
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and pancetta.
Saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.
Add the garlic and Swiss chard and potato; saute for 2 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes.
Add in Rosemary sprigs and Beef Broth, RESERVING 1/2 CUP of broth. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce to simmer until the chard is wilted and the tomatoes are soft, about 10 minutes.
In a food processor, combine 1 can of beans with reserved 1/2 cup of beef broth blending until smooth.
Add the pureed bean mixture, 2nd can of beans and Parmesan cheese rind to the vegetable mixture.
Simmer until the potato pieces are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. (Note: The soup is ready at this point but I prefer to let it slow simmer on low heat for a couple of hours to fully develop flavor.
Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Discard Parmesan rind and rosemary sprig (some of the leaves will have fallen off of the stem.) Top with fresh parsley to garnish.
Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.
Bottom Line: This soup is so easy to make and rich with Italian flavors. It could easily be made into a vegetarian dish by omitting the pancetta and replacing the beef broth with vegetable broth. If you are an Instant Pot lover, I will be updating this post very soon on how to make this delicious soup even easier! I hope you try this recipe in your own kitchen and even add in your own twists. Until next time, I am Chef Frankie, always in the kitchen, having fun and cooking with Wild Abandonment!