Well, folks, we've reached that time of year in the Pacific Northwest when life seems perpetually dark, gray and damp. Translation: it's winter and I'm realizing that it's going to take a lot of little pick-me-ups to get me through this dreary season. I'm breaking out all the candles, cozy socks, spicy tea and cuddling my pug as often as I can to cure my winter blues. Oh, and just one more thing: soups, baby, soups!
While I could probably eat soup year round (and, let's face it, I do), there is truly no better time to enjoy soups than winter. Which is why I'm just tickled I discovered this latest recipe that I will truly be making and enjoying all season long, Winter Minestrone.
Inspired by Her Royal Highness, Ina Garten, this recipe does not shy away from the fact that it should be made and enjoyed in these wintery months. Taking a spin on a classic Italian minestrone, this winter version features seasonal butternut squash and spinach to make for one hearty, stick-to-your ribs bowl of soup. But what really sets this winter minestrone recipe apart are the knockout flavor boosters like smoky pancetta, dry white wine and store bought pesto for that extra herbacious kick. It's one of those perfect bowls of soup that's best enjoyed with a crusty piece of garlic bread for dipping along with an Ali pour of red wine and a pug on your lap (ideally).
So go ahead, lean into the cozy with this most satisfying, heartwarming soup.
Adapted ever so slightly from Ina Garten's Winter Minestrone recipe – thanks, boo!
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 4 oz pancetta, diced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 carrots, peeled and diced
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes, about 2 1/2 cups
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 28 oz canned crushed San Marzano tomatoes
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups cooked small pasta, such as ditalini or a small elbow mac
- 10 oz fresh baby spinach leaves
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons store-bought pesto, like the Costco variety
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
Coat a dutch oven or heavy soup pot with olive oil, about 2 tablespoons, and heat over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Add 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 crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, white wine and bay leaf. 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. Feel free to add more broth or water if the soup is too thick for your liking, but it should be somewhat thick, like a cross between a chili and a soup. Add the spinach and pesto and stir to incorporate and until spinach is slightly wilted. Season to taste with more salt and pepper. Serve with more Parm on top and with crusty garlic bread for dipping.