On a chilly night (during flu season), there’s nothing better than steamy homemade soup. Minestrone, translated as “the big soup”, is a cornerstone of Italian cuisine. It is made with any combination of seasonal vegetables, stock, and often pasta or rice. I like to add pancetta or sausage to really boost the flavor. Adding the rind from a piece of parmesan cheese to the simmering broth also adds a ton of flavor as it melts. This recipe makes a generous amount which will make for satisfying left-overs. Serve with crusty bread and a glass of Chianti…delizioso!
Minestrone with Squash, Kale and Fennel Sausage
6 to 8 dinner servings
1 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 links fennel pork sausage, casings removed
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
8 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 can (35 oz) whole tomatoes, lightly crushed
1 bay leaf
salt and fresh black pepper
2 tblsp red wine vinegar
1 bunch of kale, ribs removed and thinly sliced
1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 inch piece of parmesan rind, plus grated parmesan for serving
2 cups small pasta, cooked (optional)
1. Heat oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add sausage and break into small pieces with a wooden spoon until browned. Add onion, celery, carrots and garlic and sauté for four minutes. Add potato and butternut squash, cook a few minutes more.
2. Transfer the mixture to a large pot. Add chicken stock, tomatoes and their juices, bay leaf, and the Parmesan rind. Season with salt and pepper. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes and squash are tender, about 20 minutes.
3. Stir in the vinegar, kale and cannellini beans. Season again with salt and pepper, and cook until the kale is wilted and the beans are warmed through. Remove Parmesan rind and the bay leaf. Serve in large bowls (over the pasta if desired), garnished with grated Parmesan and cracked pepper.