So it looks like I missed adding one of our “Soup Sunday Chronicles” recipes to the blog. This is one of my go to favorites in the fall/winter time. I saw this a couple of years ago on Food Network and have making it ever since. When I first started making this I would skip the butternut squash because I wanted this to be quick and easy and didn’t feel like dealing with the prep work for butternut squash. The one day in my grocery store I noticed in the produce department they had pre-cut butternut squash, so the next time I made the soup and bought this and just diced it up. I regret not adding in butternut squash from the beginning. It adds another level of flavor to just an “average” minestrone soup. I will never make this soup without the squash! Try out the recipe and let me know your thoughts!
Good olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, 1/2-inch-diced (just ask the deli counter to slice a chunk about 4oz.)
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
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 (26-ounce) can or box diced tomatoes, such as Pomi
6 to 8 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
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
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
1 French baguette
Good olive oil
1 clove garlic, cut in half lengthwise
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, 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, I add more chicken stock.
Just before serving, reheat the soup (I usually skip this step and make it all at once – the spinach would go right after the beans and pasta are added), 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. Depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock, add another teaspoon or two of salt to taste. Serve large shallow bowls of soup with a bruschetta on top. Sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, drizzle with olive oil and serve hot.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Slice the baguette at a 45 degree angle in 1/2-inch-thick slices. Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil and bake for 6 minutes, until lightly toasted. Take the slices out of the oven and rub the surface of each one with the cut clove of garlic. I have garlic infused olive oil so i skip the garlic step and just use the garlic olive oil. I think it tastes the same (maybe a notch or 2 down from being too garlic-y).