Well, you know how much someone loves you when you give them your cold and they don’t get angry with you. That’s right, my hubby and I are sharing germs, having dueling coughing fits and commiserating together on a lazy, cold but sunny Sunday. The kids are trying to stay clear of us, however I really think these germs came from our son because he started to come down with a cold right before we left for NYC last weekend. Our daughter, so far, has not shown any signs of it, but as I said, she has been avoiding us. She wouldn’t shake our hands during the sign of peace or hold hands today at church, she reminds us to use our elbow when we start coughing and she is glad she can now drive the car so she can escape. (2 trips to the frozen yogurt store, 1 trip to the drug store and back and forth to work.) She is also very bored because we stayed home the whole weekend. No mall, no visiting grandma, just a trip to church, the store and the bank.
So with the constant coughing, sneezing and hacking, plus lack of sleep, I have been getting up early and coming down stairs to lie on the couch. This morning hubby came down about a half hour after I did and we ending up watching a Barefoot Contessa from yesterday morning where she made a Winter Minestrone Soup with Garlic Brushetta that looked so good. And with colds that just won’t let up this looked so good we decided to stop by the store after church to pick up what we needed to give this a try. We worked together to make this and boy, was this just what the doctor ordered! Delicious, filling and enough for at least two more dinners.
Good olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, ½-inch-diced
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
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked small pasta, such as tubetti (see note)
8 to 10 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
½ cup good dry white wine
2 tablespoons store-bought pesto
Garlic Bruschetta (recipe follows)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
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.
Hubby prepped all of the vegetables for the soup.
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 re-seasoned.
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.
From Barefoot Contessa: Foolproof Recipes You Can Trust, by Ina Garten.