Bare Beauty Bites: Clean-ish Minestrone

If it’s cold where you are, make. this. soup.  I really appreciate a soup or stew that is truly a complete meal all by itself and provides me with leftovers for lunch for the next few days.  This Minestrone Soup is based on the recipe from Ina Garten’s Foolproof.  There aren’t a ton of “clean” recipes in this book, but many can be tweaked to become so.  I opted to omit the pasta, the garlic bruschetta and the parmesan (you really won’t miss them; I promise), but I did include the pesto, which contains a bit of dairy.  (Here is a good recipe for dairy-free pesto, if you need it.)  There is a load of veggies in this soup, which is so hearty, it’s really almost a stew.  Our whole family, including Woody, who is barely 1, gobbled this up.

| WINTER MINESTRONE & GARLIC BRUSCHETTA | (serves 6-8)

INGREDIENTS:

  • Good olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta, ½-inch-diced (buy organic, obviously)
  • 1½ cups chopped yellow onions
  • 2 cups (½-inch) diced carrots (3 carrots)
  • 2 cups (½-inch) diced celery (3 stalks)
  • 2½ cups (½-inch) diced peeled butternut squash
  • 1½ tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 26 ounces canned or boxed chopped tomatoes, such as Pomi
  • 6 to 8 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (I doubled the cannellini beans since I omitted the pasta)
  • 2 cups cooked small pasta, such as tubetti (see note – I omitted the pasta)
  • 8 to 10 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
  • ½ cup good dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons store-bought pesto
  • Garlic Bruschetta (recipe follows – I omitted the bruschetta)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (I omitted the cheese)

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 ½ 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, 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. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, drizzle with olive oil, and serve hot.

*NOTE: To cook 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. You can make this soup ahead and reheat it before serving. It will need to be reseasoned.

| GARLIC BRUSCHETTA |

  • 1 baguette
  • Good olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, cut in half lengthwise

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Slice the baguette at a 45-degree angle in 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.

Enjoy, and have a great weekend!

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