This might be hard to believe, but I’m a picky eater… I’m just not very picky in the traditional sense.
My poor parents, I know I put them through hell in the food department when I was a kid. The problem was I never liked traditional “kiddie” food. Macaroni and cheese? Spaghetti? Beanie weenies? Milk? Blah. Not for me. I would always skip the kid’s menu and go straight to the adult menu, favoring dishes with exotic ingredients I hadn’t tried yet and were usually 2-3x more than the kid’s menu prices. According to my dad I had a knack for going straight to the most expensive dish on the menu and ordering it (he likes to tell the story of how lobster was always my favorite). What can I say? I just had good taste.
I never liked what was “normal” and always carved my own path with food. I preferred rye bread, pumpernickel, or onion rolls to regular white bread and for the longest time I didn’t think I liked grilled cheese. Turns out I just didn’t like the american cheese it was traditionally made with.
Luckily my sense of adventure in the food department never wavered. Though I’m still very picky about certain things, I’m usually always up for something new and exciting. I actually have my dad to credit a lot for that. He was always very experimental in the kitchen while I was growing up and taught me to always try everything at least once before completely dismissing it. That’s something I still live by – you never know whether you love it or hate it until you try it. I think that statement can hold true for most things in life. 🙂
That’s why my ears perked the other month when I was on a store tour at the new Carrollwood Whole Foods Market and the cheese specialist mentioned the versatility of parmesan rinds.
I love parmesan cheese, but I don’t always love the price. The rinds had appealed to me in the past because of the lower price point ( they are about 1/3 of the price of the regular parmesan), but I wasn’t always sure what to do with them. The last time I bought them I tried to grate the last remaining bits of cheese I could off of them, but that obviously didn’t get me very far. I gave up and tossed them , not sure what else I could get out of them.
Then on the tour, the cheese specialist brought up the parmesan rinds and mentioned using them in sauces, soups, or baking them and eating them on toast. Alright. She had my attention.
I was ready to experiment with the rinds again. This time by baking them at 375 for 30 minutes. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a big success. They did become soft and chewy (and were really good with a strawberry fig jam), but didn’t stay soft and chewy for long. As soon as the rinds cooled they became hard again and were inedible. Bummer.
I still wasn’t ready to give up on the rinds.
A cold front moved in over the weekend, bringing chilly temps and high winds with it. It was the perfect day to stay inside, keep warm with a big pot of soup, and experiment with the parmesan rinds one more time.
Butternut Squash, Apple, Bacon, and Parmesan Soup
- 3 slices of bacon
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 cups cubed butternut squash
- 1 medium white potato, cubed
- 1/2 apple, cubed
- 3 tablespoons minced parsley
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 parmesan rind
- salt and pepper
In a medium pot, start by frying the bacon until crispy. Remove the bacon and set aside; discard half of the bacon grease from the pan.
Add the onion and garlic to the bacon grease. Let them sweat for a couple of minutes on medium heat. Once onions become translucent, add the butternut squash, potato, apple, parsley, chicken broth, water, parmesan rind, and salt & pepper.
Bring everything to a boil, then cover on low for 20 minutes. When potatoes become soft, puree with immersion blender. (If you used a parmesan rind with a waxy coat on the rind, you’ll want to remove the waxy part of the rind before blending. Mine did not have a waxy coating so it just melted and disappeared in the soup.)
Chop the bacon into bite sized pieces and add to soup once it’s been pureed. Serve hot with a sprinkle of parmesan on top and a side of doughy bread.
The parmesan gives the soup a slightly creamy, rich flavor, the bacon lends to a bit of saltiness, the butternut squash bulks the dish up, and the apple rounds everything out with a touch of sweetness. So many flavors going on in one spoonful!
Finally, a parmesan rind success. I think I found my new secret weapon for creamy soups and sauces. 🙂
Have you ever experimented with a parmesan rind? What did you make?
*Whole Foods provided a gift card to experiment with parmesan in the kitchen. All opinions are my own.