People are always telling me to save my old Parmesan rinds. I have about 12 in my fridge, all wrapped in scrunched-up foil wads, just waiting for me to remember them.
What else in there has seen better days? Let's see: a bottle of horseradish I haven't touched since Passover; 10 million capers I bought with my 2007 Costco membership; miso paste so old it may harbor alien life forms; and a cute Ball Jar with candied lemon rind afloat in simple syrup. (In my defense, that one's only 3 months old.)
I'm not a pack-rat, but I generally need to be confronted with evidence that something has spoiled before tossing it out. If it's not blue, or fuzzy, or malodorous, maybe it's, you know, okay. I discovered a container of mascarpone the other day while making those nutmeg-molasses sandwich cookies. It looked fine, it smelled fine, and it was sealed, but the tub said September 2008. What to do?
Back to those Parmesan rinds. Occasionally, my fish oil pills do their job and my memory taps me on the shoulder at just the right moment. Hey, you! With the unkempt hair! There's a Parmesan rind in there, and it's got your soup's name written all over it.
Recipe for White Bean Soup with Chard and Parmesan
This bean-and-green filled soup is hearty, healthy, and perfect for mid-February. If you're harboring an elderly Parmesan heel in the back of your fridge, retrieve it and toss it in the soup pot.
Serves about 6
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
1 cup chopped onion
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup diced carrots
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems and ribs thinly sliced crosswise, leaves roughly chopped
2 cans low-sodium chicken broth (or stock), or vegetable broth
Two 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 bay leaf
3/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
Leftover Parmesan rind, optional, plus freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving
2 teaspoons tomato paste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a medium soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onions, garlic, carrots, sliced chard stems, and a hit of salt and pepper until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the broth, the equivalent of 1 can (14 ounces) of cold water, beans, bay leaf, thyme, and Parmesan rind and bring to a boil.
Lower the heat, stir in the tomato paste, partially cover and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir in the chard leaves, cover, and simmer an additional 10 minutes or until the chard is completely wilted. Retrieve the bay leaf and discard.
To serve, drizzle each serving with olive oil and sprinkle generously with grated Parmesan cheese.
N.B. There's no need to toss out the Parmesan rind immediately. Keep it with the soup, even for a few days in the fridge, discarding it once you've ladled out the last bowlful.