Grana Padano, spelt and broad bean soup

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Grana Padano, spelt and broad bean soup
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Details

. Difficulty: Medium . Serves: 4 people . Preparation time: 45 minutes
I grew up in a humble family in what you would consider until a few years ago a rural area of the Italian peninsula. Food was always at the centre of our social life; every family occasion was celebrated around a meal and, because of this, we developed a great deal of respect for the products that were put in front of us. We knew that to produce those ingredients and it took effort and for our family to buy them it took sacrifices. These are the main reason why in our culture the art of stretching every ingredient to the maximum of its capability is well rooted.  You’ll be amazed by how much flavour you can squeeze out of an ingredient, if you look deep enough to uncover all its potential.
Take the Grana Padano rind for example, to throw it away in my household would cause a riot! There is so much you can do with it, from creating puffed crostini to cook it slowly on a BBQ, the uses of this overlooked part of the cheese are endless. The easiest and oldest way to use it, must be to simply chuck it into soups, stocks and sauces. It will add an extra layer of flavour to your preparation.  Of course, brush it well before using.
In this recipe, you can actually chop the cooked rind into little cubes to resemble little pasta squares and then put them back into the soup. How great is that!

Ingredients

80 g piece of Grana Padano Rind
1 small onion, chopped
150 g of spelt
300 g of broad beans (of the pod, frozen works well too)
2 l of vegetable stock (or water)
1 small bunch of fresh basil
1 small red chili (optional)  
8 spring onions, well washed
2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Blanch the broad beans in salted boiling water for 2 minutes and cool them down in iced water to retain the colour. If you have the time and patience, remove the skin from the broad beans for an optimal result, but don’t worry if you don’t as they work well anyway, they might be just a little bit tougher, but still delicious. If you have used fresh broad beans, the pod can be used for the stock.
Sweat the chopped onion in a casserole pan on low heat with the olive oil, some chopped chili (to taste) and a pinch of salt. Once soft and lightly golden, add the spelt and toast it like a risotto for a couple of minutes. Now add half of the stock and the Grana Padano rind and simmer the spelt for about 15 minutes or the suggested cooking time of the spelt package. Add the stock accordingly to the cooking time, the longer it cooks, the more liquid you will need to add to it the consistency of soup.
Halfway through the spelt cooking time, dress the spring onions with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of oil and roast them quickly on a griddle pan for 2 minutes on each side. Now chop them roughly and add them to the soup. This is a step to add an extra layer of flavour, if you prefer to keep it easier, simply chop the spring onions and add. 
 When the spelt is cooked but still al dente, add the broad beans, refill a bit of stock if necessary and bring it back to boil. Remove the Grana Padano rind from the soup and chop it into little squares whit a sharp knife while still hot, then put them back into the soup. Season to taste and serve in large bowls with an extra sprinkle of grated Grana Padano and a few fresh basil leaves.
Danilo Cortellini
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