Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Sleepy and Snuggly Minestrone Soup

No matter where you live, whether you’re shoveling snow or soaking up the sun, there’s something about winter that just makes you want to snuggle up and savor the season. Hot chocolate, apple cider, and just about anything with cinnamon really spark the holiday cheer, but one essential to ward off the chilly nights is a good ol’ hearty bowl of soup.

It seems that every soup has it’s place – chicken noodle to chase away the sniffles, tomato to compliment a grilled cheese, butternut squash if you’re feelin’ fancy. But where does minestrone come in?

Minestrone, traditionally a thicker, stew-like soup, has been “Olive Gardened” by restaurant chains and those dreadful canned concoctions into watered down tomato sauce with bits of orange and green, claiming to be carrots and celery. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a piece of macaroni for your $4.95 a bowl – what a steal!

Instead, I keep my hunger at home and found a way to revive the traditional minestrone, but of course, with a little kick. This super quick, super simple, and super sleepy soup will be sure to hit the spot and send you snuggling in bed in no time.

Sleepy Minestrone Soup

Ingredients

1 large onion, diced

4 stalks of celery, diced

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 cans tomato sauce

2 cans Italian stewed tomatoes

2 cans beef broth

1 can white beans, drained

1 can green beans, not drained

¾ lb. bacon (it’s sleepy soup, not skinny soup)

1 tsp. rosemary

1 tsp. oregano

1 cup of water

¾ lb. pasta (any shape works – I really like orichiette)

Avocado, for garnish

Cooking Instructions

Chop up that delicious bacon-y goodness into strips and brown in a dutch oven (or any other large, heavy pot) over medium high heat. In about 10 minutes, you’ll have crispy and delicious bacon bits – transfer bits to a paper towel to drain, and add the onion and celery to the bacon grease. Sautee until tender, about 7 minutes.

Now comes the easy part (as if that wasn’t already easy enough). Add all the other ingredients – stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth, drained white beans, green beans (including the liquid), rosemary, oregano, and the carrots. You can add the water here if you’d like or you can wait until the end (you’ll see why). Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes, covered.

Finally, add the pasta, mix and let simmer, covered, until tender. Once the pasta is done, a lot of the liquid will be soaked up. If you’d like a looser, more soup-like consistency, add 1 cup of water. If you want more of a stew (the way I like it), only add half a cup. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve in a deep bowl and garnish with diced avocado and the reserved bacon bits. Enjoy!