One Secret for Delicious Soup–A Parmesan Cheese Rind

Parmesan cheese rind

Our cats seem to sneak into every food related photo session.

This is simple, but it works so very well. If you use real Parmesan cheese, like Parmigiano-Reggiano, save those rock-hard rinds. They are magic flavor bombs. All you do is add them to soup or bean dishes. Add them at the start of cooking, because they need a good long while to soften up and release their flavor goodness.

They don’t make the dish taste cheesy, but rather add that elusive umami (rich, savory) character to the dish. I think it would be redundant to use the rind if you are already using meat or bacon fat or the like in your soup, but for vegetable-based dishes, it really adds a nice touch.

As to how much rind you should add, it’s kind of hard to say, since rinds vary in thickness. I don’t think it’s necessary to use a whole rind per pot–I usually break my rinds into two halves. The average chunk that goes in my pots is probably less than an inch high by maybe 3 inches long. It doesn’t really matter how much you use. Even a little will help, and there’s no such thing as too much.

I also like to eat chewy, softened rind when the cooking is done, and consider finding it a treasure hunt. Erik doesn’t understand the obsession–and I don’t want him to, because I want it all to myself.

I suspect other hard cheese rinds would work as well, but I haven’t tried it, because the Reggiano is such a staple around here, we can’t afford other hard cheeses!

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  1. What a great idea! I’ll have to try it some time, although my Microplane can grate some seriously tough rind. It makes sense that, to the extent that cheese has “bones”, making broth would be a good idea.

    When I don’t have an animal product to boost the umami aspect of a dish, and tomatoes wouldn’t work, I sometimes use grains (especially barley) that have been soaked in water with a little sourdough hooch. The sourdough culture is focused on digesting starch, but also, of course, has some that break down the proteins in grain, and will release some free glutamate over time.

    I’ve heard a lot about Maggi, but I tend to just use soy sauce, seeing as there are large bottles of generic stuff available, and also there are a few single-serving plastic packets of it sitting around my house from long-ago restaurant purchases.

    • I like that grain-in-hooch idea. Barley is such a wonder food. I love the texture it adds to soups, and will sometimes add it later in cooking if I’m worried the soup lacks pizzaz.

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