I could eat soup everyday. I like all types and every time I eat it, it warms me up and makes me feel all sorts of cozy inside. I have fond memories of growing up and eating minestrone soup from the Italian deli up the block with crunchy melty grilled cheese on the side, so this recipe was one I knew I would love. The soup requires a lot of ingredients but I promise it is worth it and you can always freeze leftovers! Happy Cooking!
FOR THE SOUP // WHAT YOU’LL NEED
4 ounces pancetta or bacon, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 1/2 cups diced peeled butternut squash
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic, about 4 cloves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
28 ounces canned diced tomatoes
6 to 8 cups chicken stock or broth
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, orzo, riso or farfalline
8 to 10 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup good dry white wine
2 tablespoons store-bought pesto
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
WHAT YOU’LL DO
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add pancetta and cook over medium-low heat 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 vegetables begin to soften.
Add tomatoes, 6 cups of chicken stock or broth, bay leaf, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
Remove bay leaf and discard. Add 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 soup, add spinach, and toss with 2 big spoons, like tossing a salad. Cook just until leaves are wilted. Stir in white wine and pesto. Add salt to taste, if needed. Serve with bruschetta and sprinkled with parmesan cheese, if desired.
FOR THE GRILLED CHEESE // WHAT YOU’LL NEED (served 6)
1 cup good mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 white pullman loaf or sourdough bread, sliced ½ inch thick (12 slices)
6 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
6 ounces aged Gruyère or Comté cheese
6 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, such as Cabot
WHAT YOU’LL DO
Combine the mayonnaise, mustard, Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Lay 12 slices of bread on a board and spread each one lightly with butter. Flip the slices and spread each one generously with the mayonnaise mixture.
Grate the cheeses in a food processor fitted with the largest grating disk and combine. Pile 1/3 cup grated cheese evenly and top with the remaining bread slices, sauce side down. Heat a panini press or a pan with butter and cook until golden brown and melty!
recipes courtesy of my homegirl Ina Garten!