Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ina Garten's Winter Minestrone

Now I realize that we have just entered into what is now officially spring and here I am posting about soup.  But spring in Utah is CRAZY!  You never know what you're going to get any given day.  And seriously the weather can change so quickly.  When I was living in Logan, many years ago, I remember it SNOWING on June 6th!!  That's practically summer.  We had a garden that year and I remember frantically going down to cover all the plants as quickly as we could so they wouldn't freeze and die.  We get it all this season, wind (and lots of it), rain, sun, snow and just about anything else. So, I'm not counting anything out just yet.

I'm a huge Ina Garten fan.  She is so classic and classy and she's got impeccable taste.  I trust any recipe of hers.  When I stumbled upon this recipe I immediately wanted to make it and knew I wouldn't have to tweak a thing to get the right taste.  And I was right.  Spot on.  If you think soup is boring or flavorless, you're going to be WOWed by this soup.  It has a very rich hearty taste and the fresh spinach and pesto at the end really finish it nicely.

Don't give up on soup just yet. We've still got plenty of chilly spring days that nothing but a warm bowl of soup can remedy.

Ina Garten's Winter Minestrone
serves 8-10 generously

good olive oil
4 oz pancetta (I had some diced ham in the freezer so I just used that)
1 1/2 cups yellow onion, finely diced
2 cups  (1/2-inch) diced carrots (about 3)
2 cups (1/2-inch) diced celery (about 3 stalks)
2 1/2 cups (1/2-inch) peeled diced butternut squash
1 1/2 Tbsp. minced garlic, about 4 cloves
1 tsp. dried thyme
28-oz. diced tomatoes
8 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup white cooking wine
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
1 15-oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup small pasta shapes, such as tubetti or ditalini
8-10 oz. fresh baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp. basil pesto

In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium high heat.  Add pancetta (or ham) and cook until slightly browned.  Remove to a plate.  Add another drizzle or two of olive oil (1-2 Tbsp.) then add onions, carrots, celery, squash, garlic  and thyme  and cook about 8-10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften.  (I like to cook my onions about 8-10 minutes before the rest of the veggies so they are good and caramelized.)

Add tomatoes, wine, bay leaf, chicken stock 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and let cook, uncovered for 25-30 minutes, until vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, in a separate pot, cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain, rinse and set aside.

When soup is ready, remove from heat, remove bay leaf and add the pasta, beans and spinach leaves.  Toss like a salad to mix in spinach leaves and let it sit until they begin to wilt. Stir in pesto and taste for seasoning.  Add more salt and broth as necessary.

Ladle soup into large bowls and serve warm.

SOURCE: Ina Garten

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