This tip is short and sweet. You know that wedge of Parmigiano-reggiano that you've been grating away at for the last month or so? Once it gets down to a seemingly worthless nub, don't throw it out! That little end piece still has lots to offer. Parm rinds are flavor gold and using them to boost your soups, stews and sauces is a game-changer.
The concept is quite simple - drop that rind into whatever you've got bubblin' away on the stove for an added flavor extravaganza. The same soups, stews or sauces you might think of topping with a hit of Parmesan cheese are good contenders for the rind move. It offers an earthy undertone and a subtle cheese flavor that will have you hoarding cheese rinds and shocked that you ever disposed of them.
The weather the last few days had really been getting to me. Even though yesterday was half-decent, I was just not appreciating that nip in the air. I wanted to curl up with soup. Something warming to envelop my soul and transport me from my weather (and birthday) blues. I took to the stove and concocted this white bean and potato soup with parmesan, topped with beautiful greenmarket spring onions that I crisped up along with bacon bits. It's got comfort written all over it.
Potatoes, 4 or 5 large, peeled and diced into large chunks
White beans (cannellini beans), 2 cups (pre-soaked)
Stock, 6 cups
Bacon, 5 or 6 slices, diced into thin strips
Parmesan rind, 1
Spring onions, 4 or 5 onions diced
Garlic cloves, 3 or 4 crushed
Fresh parsley, 1 handful
Red chili flakes, 1 or 2 pinches
Bay leaf, 1
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper
In a large stock pot, combine the beans, stock, bay leaf, chili flakes, garlic cloves and parmesan rind.
Allow to simmer on medium-low heat until the beans begin to tenderize.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add the peeled, diced potatoes and chopped fresh parsley.
In a separate nonstick pan, fry the bacon bits until brown and crispy.
Remove bacon, leaving the rendered fat in the pan. Use that same bacon fat to fry the chopped spring onions until crispy and golden.
Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel to drain excess fat.
Once the potatoes and beans are cooked, taste and adjust seasoning.
Remove the Parm rind and bay leaf from the pot.
Ladle soup into bowls and top with a generous sprinkling of crispy bacon and spring onions.