Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

August 16, 2017
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Fall brodo with acorn squash, Swiss chard and bacon

This Italian-inspired soup is light yet satisfying. Its success depends on using a deeply-flavoured brodo or broth.

Prep time: 30 to 40 minutes

Start to finish: 1½ hours

Make ahead: Partially (the homemade stock can be prepared ahead of time. The fastest way is to use a pressure cooker.)

1½- to 1¾- lb. (750 g to 875 g) acorn squash (butternut squash can be substituted)

1 bunch (about 12 oz. / 375 g) Swiss chard, preferably with dark green leaves and red stalks

6 slices bacon, cut into ½-inch (1.25-cm) pieces

1 1/3 c. (340 ml) onion, chopped

8 c. (2 L) homemade or canned chicken stock

1 c. (250 ml) farfalle (bow-tie pasta)

salt

1 to 2 pinches cayenne pepper

½ c. (125 ml) Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano, coarsely grated

Using a large sharp knife, halve the squash lengthwise and scoop out and discard the seeds and membranes. Cut each half lengthwise into 4 segments. Using a vegetable peeler or small sharp knife, peel the segments and then cut them into ¾-inch (2-cm) cubes. Set aside.

Rinse the chard and pat dry. Cut off and discard the stalks. If the ribs on the leaves are more than a ½-inch (1.25-cm) thick, cut them out and discard. Coarsely chop the chard to yield 4 loosely packed cups (1 L).

In a large pot set over medium heat, sauté the bacon pieces until they’re golden brown and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and drain on paper towels. Pour out all but 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the bacon drippings and return the pot to medium heat. When hot, add the onions and sauté, stirring, until golden brown, 3 minutes.

Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the squash and farfalle and cook until tender, 12 to 15 minutes, watching carefully to prevent overcooking. Add the chard and cook until it wilts, for 1 to 2 minutes more. Taste and season with salt and cayenne pepper.

To serve, ladle soup into 6 shallow soup bowls. Pass around bacon pieces and grated cheese separately in bowls. Serves 6.

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