While the soup simmers, brush some slices of country bread or levain with olive oil and toast them, to serve with the hot soup.
Sunset OCTOBER 2003
1. Rinse chard well and trim off and discard discolored stem ends; tear leaves from stems. Thinly slice stems crosswise; cut leaves into 1-inch pieces.
2. Pour oil into a 4- to 5-quart pan over medium heat. Add chard stems and garlic; stir often until stems are limp, about 10 minutes. Add chard leaves, broth, and 3 cups water (see notes). Bring to a simmer; cook, stirring occasionally, until chard is tender to bite, 10 minutes longer.
3. Add beans and stir occasionally until hot, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls; offer more parmesan to add at the table.
If you're using imported parmesan, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano, add a piece of the rind to the soup in step 2 for extra flavor.
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