Red Bean Minestrone with Parmesan-Tomato Broth and Melted Parmesan Toasts Recipe

If your March Madness plans include hosting a game-day viewing party, having a simmering pot of soup ready and waiting on the stove (or kept warm in a crock pot) is a great way to enjoy the gathering too. This has beans in the mix, which are an inexpensive source of protein and they’re chock-full of soluble and insoluble fiber, they don’t contain any cholesterol, and they’re high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. In this recipe, a bright red tomato broth laced with grated Parmesan is the perfect counter to the rich earthiness of kidney beans, says cookbook author Marie Simmons, who contributed this to Real Food. For a little something special, top each bowl with a slice of toasted bread smothered with curls of melted Parmesan. And if it snows when you thought spring was here, a comforting bowl of soup is a good remedy for that as well.


Red Bean Minestrone with Parmesan-Tomato Broth and Melted Parmesan Toasts

Makes 6 Servings

1 c. onion, coarsely chopped
1 c. carrots, coarsely chopped
1 c. celery, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
4 c. water
12 c. barley
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. coarse salt
18 tsp. black pepper, coarsely ground
1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (15-oz.) can red kidney beans
12 c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Parmesan Toasts
8 thin diagonal slices Italian or French bread
16 curls Parmesan, removed with a cheese plane or vegetable peeler

Combine onion, carrot, celery and oil in a soup pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and onions begin to turn golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook over low heat 1 minute.

Add water, barley, bay leaf, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook, covered, until barley is almost tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Add tomatoes, beans and cheese and cook, covered, until simmering, about 10 minutes.

For Parmesan Toasts: Heat oven to 400°F. Place bread on a baking sheet and bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully lay 2 overlapping curls of cheese on each toast. Return to oven and heat just until cheese is melted, about 3 minutes.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle soup into bowls and float one or two Parmesan toasts on each.

Nutrition info (per Serving): Calories 335 (89 from fat); Fat 10g (Sat. 4g); Chol 12mg; Sodium 1013mg; Carb 47g; Fiber 9g; Protein 16g


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Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.