With all the heavy eating and entertaining around the holidays, I need to have a vegetable-packed soup on hand as a digestive break from the rich foods, meats, and sweets. This is the thick, rustic soup I make. If I'm organized, I make it before the holidays and freeze it. If I plan to serve it to company as a casual fireside supper, then I freeze it as one large batch. Otherwise, I divide the soup in half and freeze it in two containers, ready for a pair of quick weeknight meals. Serve a salad of spicy winter greens, such as the Radicchio Caesar Salad, and a crusty loaf of bread.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 leeks, white and light green part only, cut into thin slices
- 2 large carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 3 ribs celery, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 6 cups homemade chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) peeled, diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped butternut squash
- 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup small dried macaroni, such as elbows or shells
- 2 small zucchini, trimmed and cut into l/2-inch dice
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, and cut into l/2-inch dice
- 1 package (9 ounces) frozen Italian green beans, thawed
- 1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 3 tablespoons basil pesto, homemade or store-bought, at room temperature
- Kosher or sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 In a 6-quart stockpot, heat the oil and garlic over medium heat, and allow the garlic to simmer in the oil until fragrant but not brown, about 1 minute. Add the leeks, carrots, and celery and cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and the tomatoes and their juice, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
2 Add the butternut squash, cannellini beans, and macaroni and continue to cook, partially covered, for 10 minutes longer. Add the zucchini, bell pepper, and green beans and continue to cook until the squash is fork-tender and the macaroni is al dente, about 10 minutes longer. (The soup can be made up to this point, cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 2 weeks.)
3 Remove from the heat and add the parsley and pesto, stirring to distribute well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into warmed bowls and pass the Parmesan cheese at the table.
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Excerpted from The Christmas Table by Diane Morgan. Copyright 2009 by Chronicle Books. Excerpted with permission by Chronicle Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.