Winter Minestrone and Garlic Bruschetta

  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 30 min
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
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Ingredients

Good olive oil

4 ounces pancetta, 1/2-inch-diced

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

One 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

One 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

Garlic Bruschetta

1 French baguette

Good olive oil

1 clove garlic, cut in half lengthwise

Directions

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, 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. 

Garlic Bruschetta

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.

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