If you were to take a peek inside our freezer, hidden among the rubble (read: frozen peas and leftover chili) you’d find a plastic baggie collecting all our Parmesan cheese rinds from wedges past. Are we hoarders, you’d ask? Composting? Lazy? No, no and no. (Well, the verdict is still out on that last one.) But we always, always keep our cheese rinds. Your Italian grandma probably does, too.
Here’s why: Whenever we get to the end of a piece of Parm, we save the hard, seemingly useless rind. Then, when we’re whipping up a brothy soup or stock, we toss in a rind. As the soup simmers, the rind gets soft and flavors the liquid with salty, cheesy goodness. It’s a secret trick that adds a certain je ne sais quoi—kind of like sprinkling Parmesan on top of your soup but better.
The trick will add depth of flavor to rice and risotto, too. And if you’re really into cheese (we are), you can make a Parmesan broth with just water and rinds. And a big plus: It’s also an easy way to reduce your food waste. (Whatever you do, just remember to fish out the softened rind before you serve your food.)
Now you have an official excuse to fill your fridge with cheese. Just say it’s for the minestrone. We’re confident that Nonna would approve.