This was the first of what I’m sure will be many times that I will make this soup. Or maybe I should call it a stew… Either way, it’s hearty and delicious, and packed with veggies. Don’t be discouraged by the long list of ingredients. It isn’t difficult at all to prepare, and combined with the Garlic Bruschetta, you’ve got a complete winter meal in no time. The original recipe calls for cannellini beans, which I chose to omit. Do as you wish, I’m just not a bean person.
Winter Minestrone & Garlic Bruschetta
Credit: Barefoot Contessa Foolproof by Ina Garten
4 ounces pancetta, diced
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
2 cups diced carrots (3-4 carrots)
2 cups diced celery (3 stalks)
2 1/2 cups diced peeled butternut squash
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
28 ounces canned diced tomatoes
6-8 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (I omitted these)
2 cups cooked small pasta, such as tubetti (I used ditalini)
8-10 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons store-bought pesto (or 2 “cubes” of frozen homemade pesto)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
For Garlic Bruschetta (recipe follows):
1 garlic clove, cut in half lengthwise
~Gather ingredients and prepare and chop vegetables.
~Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven. Add pancetta and cook over medium-low heat until lightly browned, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
~Add the onions, carrots, celery, squash, garlic, and thyme. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the vegetables begin to soften, about 8-10 minutes. (Aren’t the veggies colorful and pretty?)
~Add the tomatoes, 6 cups of the chicken stock, the bay leaf, 1 tablespoon 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.
~Remove and discard bay leaf. Add pasta (and beans, if using) and heat through. The soup should be quite thick, but you may add more chicken stock if you think it’s too thick. (Now is the time to begin preparing the garlic bruschetta -recipe follows.) Just before serving, add the spinach and stir to combine. Cook just until the leaves are wilted. Stir in the white wine and pesto. Season to taste with salt as needed. Ladle soup into large bowls and sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Serve with Garlic Bruschetta.
~Prepare the garlic bruschetta: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice the baguette at a 45-degree angle into 1/2-inch thick slices. Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil and bake on a baking sheet until lightly toasted, about 5-6 minutes. Take the slices out of the oven and rub the surface of each slice with the cut garlic clove.