Hands down – this has got to be my favorite soup recipe of all time! I never get sick of it and it is absolutely a go-to when entertaining guests, especially as paired alongside a fresh loaf of Italian bread! It ALWAYS gets rave reviews. It’s thick, it’s hearty, it’s healthy yet comforting – it’s everything a cool-weather soup ought to be. There’s just nothing like throwing my cast iron Dutch oven on the stove and cooking up a pot of this delectably savory soup when the weather cools down. Seriously… let me just shut my mouth right here so you can get to filling yours with this delicious dish.
Good Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/2 cups Chopped yellow onions
2 cups Carrots (1/2-inch-diced/about 3 carrots)
2 cups 1/2-inch-diced Celery (1/2-inch-diced/about 3 stalks)
2 1/2 cups Peeled Butternut Squash (1/2-inch-diced)
1 1/2 tablespoons minced Garlic (4 cloves)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
OR 1 tsp Dried Thyme Leaves
1 (26-ounce) can or box Diced Tomatoes, such as Pomi
8 cups Vegetable Broth, preferably homemade
1 large Bay Leaf
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 (15-ounce) can Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed (may sub Kidney Beans)
2 cups cooked Pasta, such as Tubetti or Chiocciole (or whatever suits your fancy)
8 to 10 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup Good Dry White Wine (adds a negligible amount of alcohol. Part of original recipe. May sub with non-alcoholic or omit entirely)
2 tablespoons Homemade Pesto (see recipe here)
OR 1 tbsp Dried Basil
Optional: Add another dimension of flavor with the addition of about 1/2 cup chopped Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Freshly grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven. 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, vegetable broth, the bay leaf, a strong pinch of sea salt, fresh cracked pepper and optional sun-dried tomatoes to the pot. *If using dried basil instead of pesto, add it here as well.
Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer covered for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Discard the bay leaf. Add the beans and cooked pasta and heat through. Your kitchen should be smelling fantastic by now.
Just before serving, add the spinach to the hot soup, and stir in. Cover and let set 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.
Sprinkled with fresh grated cheese, drizzle with lightly with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and serve hot.