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
Test Kitchen Notes
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
slices preservative-free, all-natural bacon, chopped into small pieces
large onion, peeled and chopped
large cloves of garlic, minced
leek, trimmed and sliced thinly
carrots, peeled and chopped
ribs of celery, chopped
potato, peeled and chopped
vegetable or chicken stock, preferably homemade
15 oz. can of cooked chickpeas, preferably organic
28 oz. can of peeled San Marzano tomatoes, with juice
kale, chopped fine
9-ounce package of high quality, all-natural cheese tortellini
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
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.
I grew up in a restaurant family (my parents owned the now closed Quilted Giraffe in NYC) and I've always loved to cook.
My interest in the connection between food and health led me to pursue a graduate degree in naturopathic medicine. I don't practice medicine anymore; I have a blog called Healthy Green Kitchen that I started in May of 2009 and I wrote a book called One Simple Change that will be published in January, 2014.
I live in upstate New York with my family and many pets.