I am so sick of being cold! Ugh. This winter has been brutal so far. This past week was the first break we’ve had in months. It’s still dreary and gray, but at least it’s not as cold as it has been.
I usually enjoy the winter. There’s something invigorating about a chill in the air. You get to wear soft sweaters and comfy sweatpants. Cozy hot drinks are the toast of the season. AND snow is nice to look at (I especially love watching the pups, Louie and Frankie, frolic around in it. For whatever reason, Louie insists on sticking his face in the snow to create a white, fluffy beard on his chin. Hilarious).
It’s just that…I’ve had enough snow. I’m ready for some milder weather. With wind chills nearing zero degrees and a new coating of the white stuff every few days, I need all the help I can get in the warming up department.
Enter this soup.
Gosh. This soup. (OH! I forgot my most favorite thing about winter: SOUP! Duh. Silly me.)
This soup is perfect for kicking winter’s ass. It’s hearty and healthy and full of coziness. I love broth-based soups. Sure, the creamy stuff is good too (I’m a fan, as you can tell from my soup collection on here thus far), but there’s something extra cozy about a brothy, veggie-packed minestrone-style soup.
Now, if you’re Italian, I apologize if this is not an “authentic” minestrone. My interpretation is a brothy soup with beans, veggies, and pasta. So that’s what I made for you. I think I got it right? Like most soups, this one is pretty customizable. I threw in my favorite veggies and beans and then topped the whole thing off with some kale. I don’t know that kale goes into an “authentic” minestrone, but if it’s wrong, I don’t want to be right. The kale makes this soup. It’s got such a wonderful flavor and texture – don’t skip it!
Speaking of texture, you may have picked up on the fact that I am pretty much obsessed with it. Especially when it comes to soups/stews. Hence my need to serve this with garlicky ciabatta toasts. Ugh. So good. I love dunking the crunchy bread in the broth and letting it soak up all the delicious flavors. OMG. So yummy. While the toasts are completely optional, I definitely recommend them.
This soup is the perfect accompaniment to putting off that workout or chore and just sinking into your big, comfy couch and watching a movie (or the Olympics! Another obsession of mine as of late). That’s what winter is for. OK, not entirely, but let’s just pretend for now, shall we?
My sweatpants are calling. And so is this soup.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
Pinch of red pepper flakes
½ cup dry white wine
6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1 (15-oz) can diced tomatoes
Parmesan cheese rind (optional)
1 (15-oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 bunch of kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
2 cups dried short-cut pasta (I used ditalini)
Grated parmesan cheese, for serving
Ciabatta bread, sliced
1 whole garlic clove, for rubbing on toasts
In a large pot, sauté the onion, carrots, celery, and bell pepper in the oil until soft. Add the garlic, tomato paste, herbs, and red pepper flakes. Stir until everything is incorporated.
Add the white wine and cook until mostly evaporated. Add the broth, bay leaf, canned tomatoes, and parmesan cheese rind. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
Add the beans, kale, and pasta and cook for another 8-10 minutes, or until the kale is wilted and the pasta is cooked through. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Keep warm until ready to serve.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lay the sliced ciabatta on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and toasty. Immediately rub the garlic clove on the hot bread when it comes out of the oven.
Serve the soup with grated parmesan cheese and the garlic toasts.