Minestrone

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 ounces pancetta, diced

1 large yellow onion, diced

3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced

3 quarts chicken broth

2 14 ½-ounce cans diced tomatoes

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

8 ounces anelletti, ditalini, or macaroni

4 stalks celery, sliced
3 carrots, sliced

1 14-ounce bunch Swiss chard, preferably rainbow chard, stems and ribs diced and leaves cut into 1-inch strips

2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large, heavy pot over medium heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pot. Add the pancetta and fry, tossing frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Add the onion and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the broth, tomatoes (along with their liquid), bay leaf, and rosemary and bring to a boil. Add the pasta, celery, carrots, and chard stems and ribs, return to a boil, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 14 to 15 minutes, or until the pasta is nearly al dente. Add the chard leaves and beans and simmer for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until the chard is tender. Discard the bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately.

 

Serves 6 to 8 as a main course. Vary the vegetables according to what's in season. Serve topped with a grating of Parmegiano-Reggiano and a spoonful of pesto—try Arugula Pesto in the springtime or your classic basil pesto, like the kind used in this crostata, in the summer.

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