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Author Notes: I love a good minestrone...so much veggie goodness, but so hearty, too. This recipe starts with just a little bit of all-natural bacon, but if you'd rather leave it out, go ahead and proceed with the rest of the recipe. You won't get the smoky flavor, but you'll still get a great soup (you could also substitute pancetta for the bacon, but obviously you won't do that if you are a vegetarian!). I didn't add any salt to the soup because the bacon and my homemade chicken stock did the trick, but please add it to taste, if necessary. As for the pesto, I went the hand-chopped route here because it's a small batch, I didn't want to drag out the food processor, and I wanted to use a minimal amount of olive oil. I made the pesto with parsley, which I love, but feel free to use basil instead. You can also use your own favorite homemade or store-bought pesto instead of this one, if you prefer. - WinnieAb —WinnieAb
Food52 Review: We love WinnieAb's proclivity for combining delicious, nutritious ingredients (like the many vegetables in this soup) with a touch of the indulgent (bacon, cheese tortellini). The smokiness of the bacon permeates the minestrone, imbuing the tomatoey broth with a depth of flavor it wouldn't have otherwise. The bright, rustic pesto (we used parsley, but basil would be great too) is a superb final addition, adding a garlicky, herbal kick. - A&M
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 slices preservative-free, all-natural bacon, chopped into small pieces
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 leek, trimmed and sliced thinly
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 ribs of celery, chopped
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- 1 potato, peeled and chopped
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 1 15 oz. can of cooked chickpeas, preferably organic
- 1 28 oz. can of peeled San Marzano tomatoes, with juice
- 1 cup kale, chopped fine
- 1 9-ounce package of high quality, all-natural cheese tortellini
- Aged balsamic vinegar, for drizzling- optional
- Grated parmesan cheese for garnish- optional
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the bacon pieces and cook for a couple of minutes, until they start to brown.
- Add 2 more tablespoons of oil along with the chopped onion, garlic and leek. Continue to cook, strirring occasionally, over medium heat until softened.
- Add the chopped carrot, celery, zucchini, potato and stir around for a minute or two.
- Add the stock, the chickpeas, and then the tomatoes, crushing them with your hands as you go. Add a few generous pinches of salt (be judicious if your stock is salted already). Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes, until the potatoes are just tender.
- Add the kale and the tortellini, and continue to cook over a simmer until both are tender and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Serve garnished with a spoonful of the pesto, a few drops of the aged balsamic, and a generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Parsley or Basil Pesto
- 1 cup loosely packed basil or parsley
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Chop, chop, and chop the basil or parsley some more by hand until it's very fine...when you do this, you'll reduce it down to about 1/4 cup.
- As you chop the basil, start to incorporate the other ingredients and chop them fine, too, until you have a lovely, finely chopped pesto.
- Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the olive oil. Use as a garnish for the minestrone.
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