Parmesan Rind Substitutes

By Cook's Illustrated Published September 2015

We wanted to know if the rinds from other aged cheeses could do the job usually reserved for Parmesan.

We often borrow the classic Italian trick of adding a Parmesan rind to stews or soups to boost their savory depth. The rind is particularly good for seasoning because it’s the part of the cheese where most of the bacteria and mold grow and, thus, the source of strong aroma and flavor compounds. Could the rinds from other aged cheeses do the same job? We experimented with adding a few different rinds to minestrone to find out. While an Asiago rind made the soup taste unappealingly gamey, tasters agreed that rinds from both Pecorino Romano and Gruyère added a savory flavor comparable to that of the Parmesan rind. If you don’t have a rind, any one of these cheeses is also an acceptable substitute. This will result in some stringy melted cheese stuck to the bottom of the pot, but you can simply leave it behind when serving.