Yield: Serves 6-8
4 ounces bacon, ½-inch-diced (4-5 slices)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for toasting the bread and serving
3 cups (½-inch) diced peeled butternut squash (about 1 pound)
2 cups (½-inch) diced carrots (4 carrots)
2 cups (½-inch) diced celery (3 stalks)
1 and 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (about 1 medium)
1 and ½ tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1 pound kale, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
26 ounces canned chopped tomatoes
6 to 8 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus additional as needed (depending upon the saltiness of the stock)
1 and 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups cooked whole wheat small pasta, such as elbow (about 1 cup dry)
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
Baguette, cut into 1/2 inch thick diagonal slices
In a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium low, cook bacon, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Remove from pan and place in between two paper towels set atop a dinner plate. Blot lightly and set aside. Drain most of the excess fat from the Dutch oven. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, squash, onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. Sauté over medium heat, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 8-10 minutes. Add the kale in batches as it fits in the pot, stirring so that it cooks down. Once kale has lightly wilted, add the tomatoes, 6 cups chicken stock, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and thyme. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to directions. Drain and set aside.
Once soup has simmered and the vegetables are soft, discard the bay leaf. Add the beans, cooked pasta, and reserved bacon and heat through. The soup should be fairly thick, but add additional chicken stock as needed. Serve hot drizzled with olive oil and topped with Parmesan cheese.
To toast baguette: Place rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Brush both sides of each baguette slice with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Cook until golden and toasted, about 6 minutes. Serve warm with soup.
bacon recipe source: Erin Clarke, Well Plated (@WellPlated), October 17, 2013