Swiss Chard White Bean and Pasta Soup :This superb soup, based on a recipe by Marcella Hazan, is a meal in itself. It takes a little time but is well worth it.
450 g/1 lb Swiss chard – leaves separated from the stalks
1 tsp salt
850 ml/1½ pints/3½ cups water
6 tbsp olive oil
2 whole peeled cloves of garlic
2 anchovy fillets – mashed
sprig of fresh rosemary
350 g/12 oz cooked white tinned/bottled beans
285 ml/½ pint/1¼ cups hot water with ½ stock cube dissolved in it
90 g/3 oz wholewheat pasta – penne, farfalle, fusilli, etc
30 g/1 oz grated Parmesan cheese
1. Soak and rinse the leaves and stalks of the chard – they must be clean. Cut the stalks into cork-length chunks and roughly chop the leaves.
2. Add the salt to the water and bring to the boil in a large saucepan. Put in the chard stalks first and cook them for a couple of minutes. Add the leaves and cook uncovered for another 3 minutes, until tender.
3. Remove the chard, keeping all the liquid for later use. It will serve as a good part of the soup liquid. Roughly chop the chard.
4. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the garlic. When it has browned, take the pan off the heat and add the anchovies and rosemary. Stir to dissolve the anchovies for a couple of minutes. Remove the garlic and rosemary. Turn the heat back on low and add the chard leaves and stalks. Turn them in the oil and cook for a couple of minutes.
5. Add the beans, turn in the oil, and cook them for a couple of minutes.
6. Pepper well. Perhaps add salt but be careful as anchovies are salty.
7. Add the chard water and the extra water with dissolved stock cube. When the water comes to the boil, add the pasta and cook until it is tender, covered to preserve the volume.
8. Turn off the heat and add the cheese.
Swiss Chard White Bean and Pasta Soup