Weather is weird here in Nashville, and winter can fluctuate from a balmy 75 degrees to the upper 30s in a matter of days. No matter the temperature, though, once it hits January, I start craving a cozy soup to spill all over my books.

This one comes from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof by Ina Garten:

Winter Minestrone & Garlic Bruschetta

Serves 6 to 8

Winter Minestrone

  • 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, preferably homemade

  • 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.

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 1-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.

Reprinted from the book Barefoot Contessa Foolproof copyright © 2012 by Ina Garten. Photograph copyright © 2012 by Quentin Bacon. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc. Read our review of this book.

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