Monday, February 25, 2013

Winter Minestrone Soup



Winter is still here.  For many parts of the country, it is more extreme than others.  Here in the Bay Area, it has been relatively mild, except for very chilly evenings.  You know what that means – time for soup.

There is something satisfying, gratifying and comforting about making soup.  The combination of flavors, the simmering and the beautiful fragrance that is exudes throughout the house is simply wonderful.  Recently I purchased the Ina Garten cookbook – “Foolproof, Recipes You CanTrust”.  And oh how I trust Ina.  She has honestly never steered me wrong.  I have collected all her books and adore each one.  Her recipes are straightforward, simply and extremely tasty. My bucket list includes meeting Ina one day in person. Smile.

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Her recipe for Winter Minestrone was no exception.  It was divine and the flavors were even better the next day. Honestly the only thing that I changed in this recipe was to double the pesto and added a parmesan rind to the soup.  It is a trick that I do with most soups.  The flavor is enhanced and the creamy salty quality is there.  Simply remove the rind prior to serving. You will want to decide if you want more or less pesto in the version you make.

The original recipe calls for it to be served with a garlic bruschetta which I opted not to make.  Instead, I was craving beer bread and whipped up a batch to serve along side this delicious soup.  Bon Appetite!


Winter Minestrone Soup

Olive Oil
4 ounces Pancetta, ½ inch dice
1 ½ C. Yellow Onion, diced
2 C. Diced Carrots
2 C. Dice Celery
2 ½ C. Diced and peeled butternut squash
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 teaspoon Fresh Thyme leaves, chopped
26 ounce Canned or boxed chopped tomatoes
6 to 8 C. Chicken stock
1 Bay leaf
Salt and pepper
1 (15 ounce) can Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 C. Cooked small paste, (Tubetti)
8 to 10 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
½ C. Dry white wine
4 Tablespoons pesto
1 parmesan rind
Freshly grated parmesan cheese, for serving

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 for 6 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 tablespoon salt, parmesan rind and 1 ½ 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, reheat the soup, add the spinach, and toss. Cook just until the leaves are wilted. Stir in the white wine and pesto. Depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock, add another teaspoon or two of salt to taste.
Serve large shallow bowls of soup. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, drizzle with olive oil, and serve hot.
NOTE: 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 re-seasoned.


15 comments:

  1. The evenings really have been quite chilly--I'm starting to miss spring but until it arrives any reason to have a comforting bowl of soup like this would be welcome. I love Ina's recipes, too. She's never failed me either. :)

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  2. This winter minestrone soup looks good enough to be enjoyed all year 'round! :D

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  3. Minestrone is one of my favorites! This recipe caught my eye as I was browsing through Ina's book - glad to know it's a winner! :)

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  4. Looks like a fabulous lunch, dinner (I'd even eat this for breakfast, but I'm a bit weird I know) Love starting with pancetta, I'm sure that gives awesome flavor. It's definitely still soup weather here in NC!

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  5. Oh, yes, please. I love minestrone...could eat it every day! This looks fabulous, Lisa!

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  6. What a beautiful soup for this time of year! Hearty and satisfying, thanks for sharing :)

    Happy Blogging!
    Happy Valley Chow

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  7. I love Minestrone Soup and your recipe is a winner. I want this today, it's cold, windy and rainy day.

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  8. Soup is what I cook when I feel like showing the love. GREG

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  9. I just received Ina's new cookbook and am so excited to start trying some of her recipes. This soup looks hearty and delicious, and I just love that you doubled up on the pesto (my favorite). I met Ina at a book signing at the Williams-Sonoma store in San Francisco a few years ago. Keep a look out as she may be coming back again soon! Have a great week, Lisa!
    - Lisa

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  10. Love a good minestrone soup and this one is a keeper especially if its from Ina.

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  11. It's storming here in Canada - I need a bowl; it's an emergency!!!

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  12. That looks so warming. We are never tired of soup!

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  13. You did have chilly evenings when I was there. The days were gorgeous, but as soon as the sun when down it cooled off. This soup would be perfect to warm you up!

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  14. Good choice to double up the pesto. I haven't picked up her latest one, but want to soon. It is still really cool here in the evenings. Hope you are having a great week.
    -Gina-

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  15. I love that you served beer bread with the soup! I'm not really a fan of soup but I wish I were because this looks delicious and hearty. Perfect for the weather we're having!

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