Save Parmesan Rinds To Make The Most Flavorful Soups And Broths

Don't toss them out!

parmesan rind in tomato soup
Photo:

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

We pile mountains of Parmesan cheese on our favorite pasta dishes, use it with breadcrumbs to create deliciously salty casserole toppings, and fold it into vegetable sides, so that you actually want to eat your veggies. The Italian cheese is packed with nutty, sharp flavor that adds a savoriness to a wide range of recipes.

But once you have grated it down to the rind, think twice before tossing out that hard outer skin. You might not be able to eat the rinds on their own, but they're the secret to extra tasty soups. Not only is saving Parmesan rinds a thrifty move, but cooking with them is an easy way to inject flavor into so many of your favorite dishes.

What Is The Rind And Is It Edible?

Parmesan rind is a protective layer that forms on the cheese as it ages. While it's safe to eat, its commonly discarded because it's hard and difficult to chew. That doesn’t mean it isn’t full of flavor though! The rinds can be simmered in sauces, soups, and broths, imparting its flavor as it slowly breaks down.

Parmigiano-Reggiano Vs. Parmesan

If you have ever purchased cheese with a thick yellow rind, stamped with letters across it, you have likely enjoyed Parmigiano-Reggiano. This cheese, often called the "King of Cheeses’"is produced in Italy in strict accordance with Italian law, not unlike how France regulates Champagne production. Italian law stipulates the rules for where and how the cheese can be produced, including how long it’s aged, in order to be called Parmigiano-Reggiano. It’s usually more expensive than cheese labeled "Parmesan," but is also more flavorful, thanks to its production process, and well worth the price tag, especially when used in its entirety, including the rind. 

In the United States, the term "Parmesan" indicates a similar style of hard, cow's milk cheese that was not made in accordance with these strict Italian laws. Inspired by the King of Cheeses, cheeses labeled Parmesan will have a similar, but often less complex taste. Both types of cheese rinds can be used in soups and broths, but Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese has extra thick and flavorful rinds thanks to how it's made.

How To Use Parmesan Rinds

It’s really as simple as throwing a rind into the pot while something is simmering. Whether you’re making a broth or stock, or cooking up a big batch of pasta sauce, throw a couple rinds in while it's bubbling away. Anything you would enjoy with Parmesan is a good candidate for adding a rind, from risotto to a pot of brothy beans. The rind will soften and impart its flavor as the dish slowly cooks. Just make sure to remove whatever is left of the rind when ready to serve.

How To Store Parmesan Rinds

Perhaps you’ve grated your way to the end of your Parmesan, but you aren’t ready to put a pot of soup on quite yet. Store those rinds in an airtight container in the freezer. They’ll last indefinitely, and this also gives you a chance to stockpile a few for bigger batches of soups and stews that might benefit from more than one rind added to the pot.

Try Using Parmesan Rinds In These Recipes

Here are a few recipes that are extra delicious with the addition of Parmesan rinds. 

  • Tortellini Soup - This tomato-based soup gets a boost of flavor from the rinds.
  • Fire-Roasted Tomato-and-Beef Ragù - This pasta sauce gets topped with Parmesan cheese, but throwing Parmesan rinds in while it simmers allows the cheese’s savory flavor to enrich the sauce.
  • Homemade Chicken Stock - Level up your stock with Parmesan rinds. Don't worry, the rinds won’t make it taste cheesy, but will add depth that aromatics alone can’t.
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