(Photo courtesy of Rusted Van Photography)
The most colorful season of the year is upon us. As spectacular trees display vibrant amber, red, and yellow colors, the days shorten and the air becomes a little more crisp, Autumn invites us to enjoy again those hearty “fill you up” dishes. This recipe, provided by our friends Kim Harer and Cicely Williams, is adapted from Ina Garten (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/winter-minestrone-and-garlic-bruschetta-recipe.html) and boasts an abundance of colors and deep flavors you have to taste to believe. It’s light but filling and freezes / reheats well for another meal.
1-2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 16oz Isernio’s Mild Italian Sausage Roll (The recipe in the photo above uses Isernio’s Mild Italian PORK sausage roll, but you can also use Isernio’s Italian Chicken roll or 4 links)
1 1/2 Cups yellow onion, chopped
3 Stalks Celery, halved lengthwise and chopped
3 Large Carrots, peeled, quartered lengthwise and chopped
4 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped or pressed
2 1/2 Cups butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
2 Tsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 26-oz can Italian style plum tomatoes, with juice, squeezed by hand or broken up in pot with a wooden spoon
6-8 Cups low salt Chicken Broth
1 Bay Leaf
3 Tsp. Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 lb. Dried Ditalini or Tubetti or other small tubular pasta
8-10 Ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
1/2 Cup good dry white wine
2 Tbsp. pesto
4-6 Tbsp. grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Bring 5 quarts of water to boil. Add 2 Tbsp. salt to boiling water, add the pasta and cook about 8-10 minutes, or according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta. Note: If you will be freezing this recipe, you may want to skip this step and add cooked pasta when re-heating. Otherwise, the pasta may become over-cooked and mushy!
In a large 13 quart pot, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil and cook sausage over medium heat, breaking meat up with a wooden spoon and cooking until all pinkness is gone. 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, chicken broth, bay leaf, salt, and 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 broth. Just before serving 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 with Pecorino Romano cheese and your choice of Italian bread.