Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed some time off. We certainly did! We celebrated for two weeks with friends and family and even got some alone time in (a trip up to Poughkeepsie where we first met and where we discovered a fantastic 50's diner/juice bar). All in all, it was a great month!
The only thing wrong with it, in my opinion, was the weather. Brrr! I am not a fan of cold and so winter is always tough for me (as evidenced by all the braised beans I kept making). It's so hard to be inspired you're cold and there's no exciting produce at the greenmarket. This month, I'll definitely make an effort to bring greens back into our diet but, in the meantime, I want to share this fabulous minestrone with you.
A thick, warming bean soup, chock full of vegetables and even some quinoa pasta, this soup is a meal in itself. It's fantastic sprinkled with crispy pancetta but, if you're serving vegetarians or anyone else who doesn't eat pork, it's just as good without. Serve with garlic bruschetta and Cranberry and Vanilla Bean Mimosas. Bon appetit!
adapted from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 ounces pancetta, diced (optional)
- 3 yellow onions
- 3 carrots, diced
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 2 1/2 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 stalks fresh thyme, leaves only
- 1 26-ounce box, chopped tomatoes
- 6 cups chicken stock (can substitute mushroom stock)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups quinoa pasta (penne), cooked (1 cup dry)
- 8 ounces baby spinach
- 1/2 cup sparkling wine
- 2 tablespoons pesto
- 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Heat olive oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add pancetta (if using), reduce heat to medium-low and cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until crispy. Remove and set aside. Add onions, carrots, celery, squash, garlic and thyme, raise heat to medium (if you lowered it for the pancetta) and cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent.
Add tomatoes, chicken stock, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Raise heat and bring to a boil then lower and simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes, until tomatoes are falling apart.
Remove bay leaf and discard. Add beans and pasta and simmer 2 minutes, until beans are heated through. Add spinach and simmer, stirring, another 2 minutes, until spinach has wilted. Stir in wine and pesto. Serve sprinkled with cheese and, if desired, reserved pancetta and additional extra-virgin olive oil. Enjoy!