Test Kitchen recipe: Parmigiano-Reggiano gives this soup star power

A hearty bowl of minestrone soup may not sound fancy, but one ingredient in today’s recipe puts it over the top. It’s Parmigiano-Reggiano and it’s considered the ultimate and highest-end of Italian cheeses. Made with a mix of whole and skim milks, Parmigiano-Reggiano has a sharper flavor than Parmesan and more of a granular or grainy texture. That grainy texture comes from aging. Parmigiano-Reggiano is sometimes aged for two years. If you see Parmigiano-Reggiano labeled “stravecchio,” it has been aged three years and ones labeled “stravecchiones” are aged four or more years. Its rough, craggy texture also makes this cheese unique. According to many cheese sources, Parmigiano-Reggiano is bound by its place of origin. Having Parmigiano-Reggiano stamped on the rind means it was produced in Bologna, Mantua, Modena or Parma, Italy. Now about that price. Parmigiano-Reggiano can sell for upward of $20 a pound. It’s one of the priciest cheeses. It’s costly because of the long maturing process. But because of its intense, sharp, almost nutty flavor, a small amount of this cheese goes a long way. It’s also best bought in small chunks and freshly grated — so save your money and don’t buy pre-grated. +Hearty minestrone with Celery and Parmesean-Reggiano, which has a sharper flavor than Parmesan and...

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