Swiss Chard Minestrone Soup

Bowl of Minestrone Soup


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, cut in small dice
  • 1 celery stalk, cut in small dice
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, cleaned thoroughly and sliced thin (you can use your torpedoes with greens instead)
  • Salt
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 7 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • A bouquet garni consisting of 1 Parmesan rind, 1 bay leaf, 3 sprigs parsley and 3 sprigs thyme, tied together with kitchen string or tied into a piece of cheesecloth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 pound Swiss chard, stemmed, leaves washed and cut crosswise in thin strips (4 cups, tightly packed)
  • 1/2 cup soup pasta, like elbow macaroni or broken spaghetti
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Freshly grated Parmesan
  • Optional: summer squash and fresh potatoes)


Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring, until vegetables begin to soften, about three minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and the leek. Continue to cook, stirring often, until tender, about three minutes. Add the garlic, stir for about a minute, and then stir in the water, tomato paste and the bouquet garni. Bring to a simmer. Add salt to taste, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas, taste, and adjust salt. Remove the bouquet garni. Add the Swiss chard and the pasta to the soup, bring back to a simmer, and simmer another 10 minutes or until the pasta is cooked al dente. Grind in some pepper, taste and adjust seasonings. It should be savory and rich-tasting. Serve in wide soup bowls, with a sprinkling of Parmesan over the top.

If your Swiss chard has wide stems, keep them handy. You can use them in a number of dishes, including this rich gratin.