Winter minestrone soup

Winter minestrone soupI’ve had a cold the past few days, so obviously all I wanted to do was crawl into bed, cover myself with a warm blanket, and never move again. But alas, my Type A personality doesn’t allow for me to sit still for too long—which means I used my energy to make something that is almost like a warm, comforting blanket: soup.

I’ve actually made this minestrone soup a few years ago. It’s packed with veggies, pasta, and beans. And of course it’s Ina Garten’s recipe so it has to be good.

Throw together some garlic bread to sop up the extra broth, and it truly is like getting a big, snuggly hug.

Servings: 6 to 8

Olive oil
4 oz. pancetta, ½-inch-diced
1½ cups chopped yellow onions
2 cups (½-inch) chopped carrots
2 cups (½-inch) chopped celery
2½ cups (½-inch) peeled and diced butternut squash
1½ tablespoons minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
26 ounces canned diced tomatoes
6 to 8 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked small pasta, like elbows
8 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
½ cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons pesto
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy pot. Add the pancetta and cook over medium-low heat for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.
  2. 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.
  3. Add the tomatoes, 6 cups of the chicken stock, the bay leaf, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1½ teaspoons pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  4. While the soup is simmering, make 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.
  5. When the soup has finished simmering, discard the bay leaf. Add the beans and cooked pasta and heat through.
  6. Just before serving, add the spinach. Cook just until the leaves are wilted.
  7. Stir in the white wine and pesto. Depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock, add another teaspoon or two of salt to taste.
  8. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

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