It's the right mix of texture and flavor that softens the impact of a cold midwestern night...
This soup has become the new household favorite now that the weather has turned a little colder her in Chicago. This is our new home for the next couple of years. Though we miss Sonoma very much we are embracing our new surroundings by getting a more wintery mix of food going in the house. This was a great start.
4 tablespoons of your favorite good olive oil, mine is shown here
4 ounces pancetta, 1/2 inch-dice
1 1/2 cups chopped sweet onions
2 cups diced carrots
2 cups diced celery
2 1/2 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced
4 cloves fresh minced garlic
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
26 ounces canned chopped tomatoes, I use San Marzano because they are the best
6 to 8 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade, or your favorite organic one
2 bay leaf
S and P to taste
1 (15-ounce) can Garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed well
2 cups cooked small pasta, such as Ditalini, cooked according to box instructions
10 fresh baby bello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
8 to 10 ounces fresh escarole or spinach
2 cups good dry white wine
2 tablespoons pesto, homemade or store bought
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
At our house, we like a lot of pasta in the pot. It makes this soup a "meal in one bowl".
1. 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.
2. Add the white wine and cook for 2 minutes, add the tomatoes and mushrooms,cook for 2 more minutes. Add 6 cups of the chicken stock, the bay leaves, S and P to taste to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
3. Discard the bay leaf. Add the beans and cooked pasta and heat through. The soup should be pretty thick but if it’s too thick, add a little more more chicken stock. Just before serving, reheat the soup, add the escarole and stir it into the soup. Cook just until the leaves are wilted. put 1/2 tablespoon in pesto in each bowl and ladle soup over it. Sprinkle with a good parmesan cheese and serve hot with a nice piece of grilled crunchy bread and a drizzle of great olive oil