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Ina’s Winter Minestrone with Garlic Bruschetta


A few weeks ago, I proclaimed this soup one of the best (especially for a brothy soup) soups I’d ever put in my mouth.  I am not joking.  I almost licked the Tupperware clean a week later after I ate my 7th lunch of reheated soup.  The photos are not my finest work – straight from the iPhone as we had company over when I made it and I didn’t stop and take photos before serving.  However, the recipe was too good to just post as a ‘Dinner Last Week’ photo post.

When it comes to soup…I tend towards the creamy or puréed ones.  Also, I don’t think I’ve ever had a minestrone that I had any interest in eating again.  I actually surprised myself AND Woody when I mentioned this was one of the recipes I wanted to make first out of my latest Barefoot Contessa cookbook – Foolproof.  The mixture of pasta, white beans, spinach added at the last second, a dollop of pesto, the richness of parmesan and the butternut squash is so savory and flavorful and perfect for a winter evening…even a mild California winter evening.

I made the recipe exactly as written and the only thing I might change is to add a bit more pancetta.  I thought for sure that the leftovers would be good…but expected the pasta to be blown out from continuing to soak up liquid and the wilted spinach to turn to mush…surprisingly, it held very well.  My mouth still waters thinking about this soup…I’d be surprised if I can wait another month to make it again.

Winter Minestrone with Garlic Bruschetta

from Ina Garten’s “Foolproof Barefoot Contessa”

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.

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 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.

 

ps:  This recipe is all over the internet, pinterest, etc.  Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks it is absolutely delicious.

 

 

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Blackberry Scones


There are a lot of scone recipes out there.  I tend toward a more traditional cream scone, but I did not happen to have any cream in the house…so a little internet research turned up some alternatives, and a few seemed promising using evaporated milk.  After reading through them and finding some consistencies between them, I sort of made up my own recipe, fingers crossed that it would turn out.

Since it is the new year…and I’m sure you all have resolutions that you are trying to keep…many having to do with eating healthy, getting fit and watching your weight…here’s a little bonus!  Using evaporated milk makes these scones lower in fat.  You can substitute evaporated milk for heavy cream in many recipes, it provides the thickness and creaminess without the added fat.

Mini Blackberry Scones

2 cups flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
3 tbsp. sugar
6 tbsp. butter, cold, cut in chunks
1 can evaporated fat-free milk
1 cup fresh blackberries

Mix your dry ingredients together, then dump in the cold chunked butter and cut it in using a pastry cutter or two forks.

Before adding the evaporated milk, toss in the blackberries.  This helps them to stay whole and forces you to barely mix the batter once the liquid is added.

Pour in the evaporated milk and mix very gently.  It’s okay if the berries break up a bit.

Spoon into a scone pan (we scored this one years ago from our wedding – but they are not really necessary), or dump batter onto a greased cookie sheet and spread into an approximate circle or square.  Then using a pastry scraper or a knife, divide the dough into scone shapes (wedges, squares, triangles…whatever you fancy).

Bake in oven set at 400° F for 12-20 minutes depending on the size of your scone.

You are looking for tops that are golden brown.

Once they’ve come out of the oven and cooled just a bit, serve them up with honey, clotted cream, lemon curd or butter and of course, a cup of tea!

 

 

 

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