Found in the cupboard: Cannellini beans. Found on top of washing machine: 1 butternut squash (don't ask). Found in freezer: Spinach. Solution on a wintry evening while fending off a cold? A hearty, soul-warming soup (adapted from here).
1 large shallot, chopped
1 small butternut squash (2-2.5 pounds), peeled and diced
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
3 cups chicken broth
1/2-1 cup frozen spinach
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Salt to taste (less if the chicken broth is highly salted)
2-3 pinches Meyer lemon zest
A little Pecorino or Parmesan cheese (optional)*
Heat a soup pot over medium heat. Add a glug of olive oil and the shallot, and saute for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the squash and saute, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add the rosemary and bay leaf, and saute for a couple minutes more.
Pour in the chicken broth, stir once, and cover the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 12-20 minutes (depending on how big your cubes are), until the squash is just tender. Add the spinach and the beans, return the soup to a simmer, and cook for about three minutes more.
Add salt and lemon zest to taste (there's enough salt when the broth tastes flavorful, and there's enough lemon zest when you can taste just a hint of it). Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with white pepper, and grate just a very little cheese over the top if desired (like 2-3 passes across a microplane per bowl).
*If you live near the Sacramento Co-op, there is a cheese there called Pecorino Moliterno with Truffles. Buy it, revel in what happens when you eat it alongside a tart apple, think of it obsessively the entire next day, and also use it here.