Winter is almost over, but the cool and damp stuff is still upon us. Here is a recipe I made from Gourmet magazine, and this is so much better than my other minestrone recipe that it will become my go-to from now on. I used sweet Italian chicken sausage in place of pancetta, chick peas in place of cannelloni beans, and of course, soy parmesan in place of the real thing. Enjoy!
1 package (4 links) sweet Italian chicken sausage, chopped (I used Trader Joe’s)
3 medium red onions, chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch Swiss chard
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice
3 quarts hot water
5 cups coarsely chopped cored Savoy cabbage (6 ounces)
5 cups coarsely chopped escarole (1/2 pound)
1 14-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup shredded soy parmesan
8 ounces ditalini, cooked al dente, according to package instructions
salt and pepper
Cook the sausage, onions, celery, and carrots in oil in a wide 7-9 quart heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, while preparing the chard.
Cut stems from chard and chop stems, reserving leaves. Stir chard stems into sausage mixture with garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender and begin to stick to bottom of pot, about 30-45 minutes total. (set aside chard leaves)
Push vegetables to one side of pot. Add tomato paste to cleared area and cook, stirring constantly, until it starts to caramelize, about 2 minutes. Stir paste into vegetables and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. (paste my stick to pot, but don’t let it burn).
Stir in tomatoes with their juice, breaking them up with a spoon, then add hot water (3 quarts), scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot.
Bring to a simmer. Stir in cabbage and escarole, and simmer, covered, until greens are tender, about 40 minutes.
Coarsely chop chard leaves and stir into soup along with beans. Simmer, partially covered, 10 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper. Add ditalini just before serving.