Minestrone Soup

This soup is like therapy. Both preparing it and eating it will make you feel better about what ails you. I decided to try this recipe after seeing Ina (we’re on a first-name basis now, me and Ina Garten) prepare this on her show, Barefoot Contessa, and she included it in her latest cookbook, Foolproof. I changed just a few things (for example, I use regular bacon instead of more expensive pancetta, and I chopped up fresh basil and tossed in a parmesan rind instead of using store-bought pesto), and the results spoke for themselves. My family finished the pot and requested I make it again! You will think I am making this up, but my 4-year-old ate his whole bowl and my almost 2-year-old (gasp–he is getting big too fast) got seconds! We paired it with my husband Mike’s homemade sourdough bread and some crisp Pinot Grigio. Magic.

P.S. Mike and I go to see Ina this week at her book signing, I can’t wait!

Dive in and be healed!

Dive in and be healed!

Minestrone Soup
Recipe type: Soup, Lunch, Dinner
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6-8
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 slices bacon (I use Nature's Promise uncured hickory-smoked bacon)
  • 3 medium yellow onions
  • 5 medium carrots
  • 4 large stalks celery
  • half of a large butternut squash
  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • leaves from 4-6 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 26 ounces of chopped/diced tomatoes (I used Pomi brand boxed tomatoes at Ina's suggestion, and they were delicious. Use your favorite.)
  • 8 cups chicken stock (I use low-sodium or homemade if Mike has made some.)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup dry ditalini pasta (or your favorite small pasta, like small shells or elbows)
  • 6-8 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
  • parmesan rind (You can just cut the rind off a block of parmesan or save the rinds in a plastic bag in the freezer as you finish parmesan and pull one out to give great flavor to soups.)
  1. Prepare your vegetables. Peel and chop the onions, carrrots and butternut squash into a small dice and set aside in a large mixing bowl. A nice small dice is essential because then a spoonful of soup will have a little bit of everything in it. Wash and small dice the celery and add to the bowl. Peel and mince the garlic and add to the bowl as well. (Little note: If you follow my prep order you will only need to use one cutting board for this whole recipe. Just looking out for you--or whoever does your dishes.)
  2. Strip the leaves off the thyme and place in the bowl with the vegetables. Toss in the bay leaf.
  3. Strip the leaves off the basil, chop it very fine and set aside in a separate small bowl. Put the basil stem in the bowl with the vegetables.
  4. Time to cook. Find your largest pot or Dutch oven (10-12 quarts) and heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.
  5. Chop the bacon into ½-inch slices and toss into the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the fat renders out and it starts to lightly brown.
  6. Add in the entire bowl of vegetables and herbs and increase heat just a little. Toss everything together and cook for about 8-10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften but do not brown.
  7. Add the chopped tomatoes and all their liquid, the 8 cups of stock, the parmesan rind, ½ a tablespoon of salt and just under a teaspoon of pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to let it simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
  8. Discard the bay leaf, parmesan rind, and basil stem.
  9. Add the rinsed beans and the spinach leaves, a handful at a time, stirring them into the soup.
  10. Put a small pot of water to boil on the stove, salt the water and cook the pasta until it is still al dente (firm). Drain and add pasta to the soup.
  11. Taste the soup and add salt or pepper if needed.
  12. Serve with parmesan cheese, crusty bread, and a nice glass of wine.
  13. Note: This soup can absolutely be made ahead for stress-free entertaining. Do everything ahead of time except add the spinach and the pasta just before serving.

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