We’ve had a little cold snap here and I’ve been taking advantage of it by baking, and making soup. It gets very cool at night and a seasonal vegetable soup helps chase away the chills. And it makes for a few days of delicious and effortless lunches. This is my autumn version of minestrone.
It starts with a basic mirepoix which is allowed to brown, followed by the addition of lots of garlic, and a judicious amount of rosemary and sage. Canned tomatoes, lacinato kale, and diced butternut squash are added, along with a light broth, and simmered to meld the savory flavors. Cooked cranberry beans, with some of their liquid, are added at the end, just to heat through. Be sure to cut all your vegetables into bite-size pieces so that each spoonful of soup contains a variety of flavors and textures. Chop the kale into small squares rather than ribbons; it will be easier to eat neatly. I adjusted the seasoning with a small amount of balsamic vinegar and served the soup garnished with good olive oil, and coarsely grated Parmesan cheese. It’s a bowl of warming comfort, perfect for a cool, rainy day!
A Fall-Flavored Minestrone Soup
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion , finely chopped
- 2 carrots , peeled and finely chopped
- 2 celery stalks , peeled and finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves , peeled and minced
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons of salt , or to taste
- 1 bunch lacinato kale , coarse stems removed, rinsed and chopped into small pieces
- 1 15- ounce can tomatoes , drained and coarsely chopped
- 4 cups of light chicken broth , preferably homemade, or best quality store bought
- 2 cups of peeled and small-diced butternut squash
- 2 cups cooked cranberry or borlotti beans
- Additional liquid , about a cup, in the form of water or bean-cooking liquid
- Salt , pepper, and about a teaspoon of aged balsamic vinegar, to adjust the seasoning
- Extra virgin olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese , for serving
Warm the olive oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, carrots, and celery and cook until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add the chopped garlic, rosemary, sage, bay leaf, and salt, and stir and cook until fragrant (another 1 or 2 minutes). Add the kale and the tomatoes, stir to combine , and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in the stock, adjust the heat to a gentle simmer, and cook, partially-covered, for 15 minutes.
Add the diced butternut squash and continue cooking the soup mixture until the squash is tender, another 10 to 15 minutes. Add the cooked beans to the pot and additional liquid (water or bean-cooking liquid) to achieve the desired consistency. Adjust the seasoning with salt, freshly ground pepper, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, if desired. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with a few drops of extra-virgin olive oil, and a scattering of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.