Winter has finally hit us here in New England and so have my cravings for comforting soups. After the shameful amount of cheese and gluttonous foods I consumed over the holidays, I have actually been craving vegetables. But that’s not to say this soup skimps on flavor.
Between the garlic, San Marzano tomatoes, port, and herb bundle, you would never know that you’re eating a big bowl full of veggies. I also find making a big pot of soup to be calming… smelling the delicious aromas as it simmers away, just stirring every so often, while sipping wine.
The rosemary bread is completely optional, but I wouldn’t suggest skipping it. Crunchy on the outside and soft inside, it’s perfect for soaking up the last bit of soup and the rosemary compliments the flavors of the soup wonderfully.
This recipe makes about 6 servings, so it’s a lot, but I’d suggest making it all since it only get better the longer it sits. Happy eating!
3 cloves garlic (or if you’re me, 5), minced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 “ cubes
1T each, salt & pepper
¼ cup port
½ cup dry white wine
28oz can San Marzano tomatoes (whole or crushed – if whole crushed by hand)
15oz can cannellini beans
5 cups vegetable stock
Piece of parmesan rind (omit for vegetarian)
Herb bundle (I used 3 thyme sprigs and 2 rosemary sprigs), tied together with twine
2 ½ cups swiss chard (I used rainbow)
for serving: grated parmesan, freshly ground black pepper, evoo
In a large soup pot, heat the evoo over medium-low heat. Stir in the garlic and onion, cook until the garlic is fragrant. Add the carrots and celery and allow to cook while you peel and chop the butternut squash. Add the squash and season with salt & pepper. Allow vegetables to cook to develop their flavors and allow a bit of a crust to form on the bottom of the pot.
Deglaze the pot with the port, stirring to break up the brown bits on the bottom. Increase the heat slightly and add the white wine. Allow to simmer until reduced by about half.
Stir in the vegetable stock, tomatoes, beans, herb bundle and parmesan rind. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer, until the butternut squash can be pierced easily with a fork, about 30 minutes. When the squash is cooked, stir in the swiss chard and cook another 5 minutes. Remove the rind and herb bundle.
Laddle into bowls and top with grated parmesan, freshly ground black pepper, and a swirl of evoo. Serve the rosemary bread alongside (see recipe below).
1T dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 1/3 cups bread flour
2T fresh chopped rosemary or 2tsp dried
3T olive oil, divided
Combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water in a mixing bowl. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes until bubbly.
Place 2 ¼ cups flour and 1 tsp salt in a large mixing bowl. Add half of the rosemary and mix until evenly combined.
Add yeast mixture and mix/knead until dough is smooth and elastic. This will take about 5-8 minutes with a mixer and 8-10 minutes by hand. If you need to add more flour, add only a little at a time.
In a large bowl (I used the same bowl I mixed in, just wiping it out), coat thinly with evoo and roll dough a few times so surfaces are protected with the oil. Tightly cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm area to rise, until approximately doubled, about 1 hour. My house is slightly drafty, so it took about 1 ½ hours.
After dough is doubled, punch down and shape it into a rounded loaf. Using a sharp knife, make a criss-cross design on top. Place dough on an oiled baking sheet. Place a large mixing bowl, inverted, over the dough (make sure the bowl is large enough to allow the dough to rise). Allow to rise again, until doubled, about one hour.
After dough has doubled again, gently brush with evoo, sprinkle with coarse sea salt and a small amount of rosemary. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes, spraying loaf with water once during the middle of baking. Turn oven up to 425° and spray loaf with water again. Bake until the top is golden brown, making sure to not over bake.
Slice into 1/2 “ thick pieces and serve along side the minestrone. If you like it extra crunchy, feel free to toast the slices in the warm oven, about 5 minutes.