I've been meaning to make something different with the chard this time and had a white bean soup in mind. The weather is not cooperating with my plan. Its 400 degrees here again. Distinctly un-soupy weather, save for the humidity. But, I want to make soup, dammit! I'm going to make soup and we're going to eat it too, even if it means cranking the a/c up as high as it will go.
Before we get to the recipe of the day, I will - at last - share my news. You may have noticed the little "Featured Publisher" badge on the top right side of the blog. It will link you to Foodbuzz.com, which is the foodie version of a social networking site. Its an awesome resource for all kinds of food related fun - full of great blogs, recipes, photos, restaurant reviews and more. About a month ago I submitted Beach Eats for inclusion in their Featured Publisher Program and I've been accepted! I'm thrilled to be associated with such a cool new site and I look forward to the possibilities for Beach Eats. I've already met some wonderful blog friends through Foodbuzz and I'm excited about the potential for gaining increased readership. Whether or not that will actually happen remains to be seen - but, at a minimum, it means that someone has read my content and found it acceptable. Color me as bright and happy as this chard!
And now, let's get cooking. I didn't really have a specific recipe in mind when I made this soup last night - just got a bunch of ingredients together and let the soup develop as I went along. Its all pretty standard really and the amounts listed are entirely flexible. I used some whole wheat orzo in the soup, but you could certainly substitute any variety of small pasta - or even leave it out. I also used some turkey bacon and I'd like to talk about that for a minute. If you choose to use turkey rather than real bacon, be sure to buy a brand that is as chemical-free as possible. I've had good results with Applegate Farms nitrate-free turkey bacon. Its lean and has a nice, unprocessed, smoky flavor. I once made the mistake of buying Jennie-O turkey bacon and it was awful. Tasted like a mouth full of chemicals. Horrid! I ended up throwing it out. So, please don't use that brand in this soup.
Swiss Chard and White Bean Soup:
- one large bunch of Swiss Chard
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 tbsp. minced onion
- 1 rib of celery, leaves included if possible
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 pieces of turkey bacon
- 2 -3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. of fresh rosemary, chopped
- 4 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups of vegetable broth
- 1/2 tsp. of good quality curry powder*
- 2 inch piece of Parmesan cheese rind
- one can of cannellini beans
- one can of small white beans (I used Goya low-sodium brand)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- some cooked whole wheat orzo or other small pasta
- chopped fresh parsley
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- some smoked salt
- wedge of lemon to be sprinkled over the soup at table
Heat a large, heavy bottomed, stock pot over medium high heat, add the turkey bacon and saute until well browned. Remove and reserve for later. Add the olive oil, shallots, onion, garlic and celery to the pot and saute, stirring often to pick up the browned bits on the bottom and sides of the pan. Continue sauteing for @ 3 minutes, until the vegetables have softened.
Begin adding the chard, in bunches, to the pan and saute, stirring constantly until wilted. Once the greens have cooked down, add in another handful of the chard and repeat the process until all of it has wilted. This process will take some time, be patient.
Stir in the rosemary and saute for one minute. Add the chicken and vegetable broths to the pot, along with the curry powder and stir to combine. Add the piece of Parmesan cheese rind, bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer the soup for 15 minutes. Remove the Parmesan rind after simmering and discard. (Hint, it is used for flavor, but don't waste the lovely, melty bits of cheese that will develop while simmering. Scrape them off and eat them. Delish!)
While the soup is simmering, prepare the beans. Drain and rinse the cannellini beans and reserve. Drain and rinse the small white beans and mash them to a paste, either using a fork or your food processor. Reserve. Once the soup has simmered for the recommended time, add in the mashed beans and stir vigorously to blend. Add in the reserved whole beans and stir to combine. Chop the reserved turkey bacon and add it to the pot. Let the soup simmer for @ 5 more minutes to heat through. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more salt and a generous grinding of black pepper to taste.
Place some of the cooked pasta in the bottom of a bowl and ladle the chard and bean soup over it. Serve with any or all of the above listed garnishes and enjoy! I particularly recommend the smoked salt - it adds a wonderful flavor and is great with any egg or pasta dishes as well.
I should note for the record - the finished product is decidedly un-photogenic, hence no final pictures here. But, what it lacks in visuals is made up for in taste. This soup is a healthy, hearty, meal in a bowl. I hope you'll try it!
*One final note about the curry powder ... this soup will not taste like a curried soup. I always add a hint of good quality curry powder to any chicken broth based dish I make. When using a canned stock, it can often lack depth and I find the hint of curry really compliments the chicken flavor and adds to the overall richness of the soup. Give it a try next time you're making a chicken soup - you won't be disappointed!