Entrée, Gluten Free, Soup, Winter

BUTTERNUT SQUASH + KALE MINESTRA

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I feel weird that I called it a "minestra." That is the Italian word for a mixed vegetable sort of soup, think minestrone, and it sounds way more intriguing that way right?! I skipped the pasta here, though you could totally add it or some brown rice or shredded chicken to fill it out if you're into that sort of thing. I have a tough time with salads when it's chilly out, so this pot of goodness serves as an alternative to pack in the vegetables. It is made of easy, pantry staples and some easy to find produce. Boring on its own (sell it, girl!), as brothy, all-vegetable soups go, so a heavy hand with the parmesan croutons is necessary. It tastes better the next day, so lunch leftovers or delivering it to a sick friend is encouraged. 

BUTTERNUT + KALE MINESTRA // Serves 6
Inspired by Williams and Sonoma
I understand wine and vinegar are not often subs for each other, but I hate when I have all but one ingredient. It's winter, I stock red wine in the cool months ;) The recipe listed here leaves you with a fairly stewy soup. Add a bit more broth, and you can add in a cup of cooked orzo, brown rice, some shredded rotisserie chicken or what not to bulk it up. 
Use a rich tasting vegetable broth if dietetically preferred, but a bone broth or fresh stock will add more body to this light soup. The soup can be made in advance, add the kale in the warm up to preserve its bright color. 

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus more to drizzle
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 small fennel bulb, cored and sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
sea salt and pepper, as needed
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed (3 cups)
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 sprigs of thyme
1/2 cup white wine (or 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar)
1 tsp. dried oregano
dash of cayenne
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 14.5 oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 14.5 oz. can white beans
3 cups low sodium broth, vegetable or chicken
1 bunch of kale, stemmed and roughly chopped

parmesan croutons
1/2 a loaf of day of bread (gluten free bread works too)
1-2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
grated parmesan, plus more for serving

In a large dutch oven or heavy pot, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel, garlic and a generous pinch of salt and pepper and saute until they begin to brown. Add the butternut squash, another pinch of salt, whole herb sprigs and saute. Add the white wine and let it cook down, leaving the lid ajar so the squash softens, about 6 minutes. Stir in the oregano, cayenne, tomato paste, roasted tomatoes, white beans and broth (more or less based on how thick you like your soups). Bring the soup to a gentle simmer, leave the cover ajar and cook for 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning. If it tastes flat, it likely needs more salt, maybe more cayenne and a squeeze of lemon. Stir in the chopped kale until it just wilts, about a minute or two.
While the soup cooks, make your croutons. Preheat the oven to 375'. Rip the loaf into rough 1" pieces. Toss them in the oil to coat, pinch of salt and pepper, and parmesan. Bake the croutons for 12 to 15 minutes until dry an browned on the edges. Set aside to cool.

Ladle the soup into bowls, finish it with a drizzle of olive oil, a heavy handful of croutons and more cheese. 

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