Winter Minestrone

January 22, 2014

I’m such a soup fan. I could eat it every single day for lunch or dinner. I’m not a particularly picky soup eater either. I usually will just throw a bunch of stuff together and enjoy whatever the combination creates – some stock, whatever veggies I have on hand, a few spices and protein if needed and voila! Concoction complete :) That being said, there are some recipes I’ve come across (or up with) over the years that I follow to the letter. Potato soup, Corn Chowder and Beef Stew to name a few. Last week I tried this Winter Minestrone from Ina Garten and it was soooo good. I can NOT wait to make it again!

Do yourself a favor and add this to your menu soon and make sure you follow the steps exactly. The result is soup perfection.

** I left out the pasta, but feel free to add it. I would cook it separately and only add it to the bottom of the bowl when serving.

Good olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, 1/2 -inch-diced (I used bacon)
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
2 cups (1/2-inch) diced carrots (3 carrots)
2 cups (1/2-inch) diced celery (3 stalks)
2 1/2 cups (1/2-inch) diced peeled butternut squash (I used bagged frozen)
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
26 ounces canned or boxed chopped tomatoes, such as Pomi
6 to 8 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (page 62)
1 bay leaf Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked small pasta, such as tubetti (see note)
8 to 10 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup good dry white wine
2 tablespoons store-bought pesto
Garlic Bruschetta (recipe follows)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

To cook the pasta, put 1 cup of pasta into a large pot of boiling salted water. Cook according to the directions on the package, drain, and set aside.

You can make this soup ahead and reheat it before serving. It will need to be reseasoned.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add the pancetta and cook over medium-low heat for6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Add the onions, carrots, celery, squash, garlic, and thyme and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften.

Add the tomatoes, 6 cups of the chicken stock, the bay leaf, 1-2 teaspoons salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Discard the bay leaf. Add the beans and cooked pasta and heat through. the soup should be quite thick but if it’s too thick, add more chicken stock. Just before serving, bring the soup back to a slow boil, add the spinach,and toss with 2 big spoons (like tossing a salad). Cook just until the leaves are wilted. Stir in the white wine and pesto. Serve large shallow bowls of soup with Parmesan cheese, drizzle with olive oil, and serve hot. Enjoy!

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