Italian Minestrone

Italian Minestrone

1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 lb. chard (rainbow is beautiful, but any kind will work), de-stemmed and roughly chopped
1 medium sized russet potato or sweet potato, peeled and cubed
4 ounces of the best pancetta you can find, roughly chopped
14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup dried pasta (orechiette, rotini, macaroni, etc.)
3 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans (or two 15 oz cans)
2 14 oz cans low-salt beef broth (Swanson is GREAT!)
A nice, big chunk of Parmesan cheese rind
1 fresh rosemary spring or 1/2 tsp dried
1 1/2 Tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (about 1 tsp each is just about perfect)

1.) Grab your trusty Dutch oven and heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, and saute for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots, celery, and pancetta. Saute for 10 minutes.

2.) Add the chard and potato and saute for a few more minutes.

3.) Add the tomatoes and rosemary, and simmer for 10 minutes; until tomatoes break down.

4.) Meanwhile, puree 1 cup of beans with 1/3 cup of the broth in a food processor or blender.

5.) Add pureed bean mixture, remaining broth, and parmesan rind. Simmer for 10 minutes, add the dried pasta, and continue simmering for 10 minutes more.

6.) Add the remaining beans and parsley, and simmer for another few minutes.

7.) Season with more salt and pepper if necessary, discard the rosemary sprigs if you used fresh, and serve soup sprinkled with parmesan cheese and a nice big piece of crusty bread.

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