Minestrone

When you buy a chunk of Parmesan, what do you do with the rind when you’re done with the cheese? Here’s a reason to buy the cheese for the rind: cooking it in the soup adds an almost meaty flavor to this Italian vegetarian classic.

Yield: 16 to 20 cups.

1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
1 Spanish onion, halved and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed or finely chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 carrots, quartered lengthwise and sliced
2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
10 cups beef or chicken stock
1 15.5-ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 Parmesan Cheese rind (about 5 inches long)
2 cups cooled cooked medium-sized pasta shapes
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves, for garnish

1. Place a stockpot over medium heat and when it is hot, add the oil. Add the onion, garlic, celery, carrots, zucchini, and dried basil and cook, covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes, stock, beans, and Parmesan cheese rind. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to low and cook, partially covered, for 2 hours.

3. Transfer to a container, cover, and refrigerate at least overnight and up to 2 days.

4. Remove the Parmesan cheese rind. Place the soup in a pot, add the pasta, and gently reheat. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with the Parmesan cheese and fresh basil, and serve.

From Warehouse to Your House: More than 250 Simple, Spectacular Recipes to Cook, Store, and Share When You Buy in Quantity (Simon & Schuster, 2006)