When the weather turns cold, what could be better than a hearty bowl of Minestrone just overflowing with layer after layer of flavor and nutrition. Perfect served with a rustic loaf of bread from the oven.

Yield Serves 8-10


  • 1 t. olive oil
  • 4 oz. thick-cut bacon or pancetta, diced
  • 1 lb. Italian or Swiss sausage, casing removed
  • 1 ½ cups carrots, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups celery, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • ¼ cup dry red wine
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 14-oz. diced tomatoes
  • 28 oz. marinara, your choice
  • 14 oz. cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 14 oz. red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 14 oz. garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 t. salt
  • ½ t. black pepper
  • 1 t. dry oregano, crumbled
  • 1 t. dry basil, crumbled
  • ½ t. dry thyme, crumbled
  • 1 t. hot pepper sauce
  • 8 oz. spinach
  • Cooked, drained  rotini pasta (8 oz. dry)**
  • Italian parsley, chopped
  • Parmesan cheese

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Place the olive oil In a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon or pancetta and cook until done, but not crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon; set aside. Add the sausage,, breaking up and it cooks. When slightly brown, remove with a slotted spoon and add to the bacon.

Add the carrots, celery and onion to the pot, cooking for 6-8 minutes until vegetables are just slightly soft; add garlic and continue cooking for two minutes. Add the wine, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Cook for 2 minutes then add the broth, tomatoes and marinara sauce. Return the sausage and bacon to the pot, add salt, pepper, oregano, basil and thyme, stirring well. Turn heat to simmer and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside, drizzling with 1 t. olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking together.

Add hot pepper sauce and beans, cooking just long enough to heat the beans through. . If the soup is too thick, add water or broth to thin. Add spinach, and pasta, stirring until spinach is slightly wilted and pasta is hot. Taste the soup for seasoning, adjusting if necessary.

Serve in wide, shallow bowls, topped with a drizzle of olive oil, fresh chopped parsley and Parmesan cheese.