I got involved in a vegetable soup conversation on facebook this week, and mentioned this yummy soup that the Hubby makes. It's something we found on Food Network's website so I can't take ANY credit at all. All the applause go straight to the Neely's. Darling Daughter turned up her nose at it when Hubs was cooking it...she said she didn't think she wanted to eat anything that looked like red celery with poofy leaves on top. However, as soon as she smelled it, all bets were off!
If you don't want to use chickpeas, you can substitute black eyed peas, which is what we did because we had those on hand. (Well, ok, we didn't really have any rainbow chard just lying around, but we already had the peas.) If you're making it for little ones or you don't like things very hot, then only use a little hot sauce...it doesn't have a spicy taste it just has a bit of flavor. And you could totally leave out the bacon, it didn't really add or take away anything important.
3 slices bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
1 (6-ounce) piece smoked ham steak, diced into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 small bunch Swiss chard, stemmed and sliced into thin ribbons
1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
1 (16-ounce) can chickpeas or black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
Hot sauce, as needed
Worcestershire sauce, as needed
Grated Parmesan, for garnish
Add the bacon to a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat. Fry until crisp, then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and reserve. To the same Dutch oven, add the onion, garlic, and carrot, and saute until the vegetables are tender, roughly 4 minutes. Add the ham steak and red pepper flakes and adjust the seasonings with salt and black pepper, to taste. Add the Swiss chard and saute until it begins to soften.
Stir in the chicken broth, chickpeas or black-eyed peas, and the canned tomatoes with their juices. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook for 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if necessary. Splash with some hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese and bacon.