recipe // smoky minestrone with tortellini and pesto

This minestrone recipe is a great standby I found on Food52. It’s hearty and packed full of vegetables, with some bacon thrown in to give it the smoky quality in its name. Be prepared for a lot of chopping, but from start to finish this only takes me a little over an hour to make, including the 30-40 minute simmering time. As the recipe suggests, this is great served with fresh basil pesto on top, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and some Parmesan cheese, with some good bread on the side.

Smoky Minestrone with Tortellini

Smoky Minestrone with Tortellini
from Food52 | serves 6-8

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 slices 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
1 15 oz. can of chickpeas
1 28 oz. can of peeled San Marzano tomatoes, with juice
1 cup kale, chopped fine
1 9-ounce package of fresh cheese tortellini
Aged balsamic vinegar for serving
Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

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, then add a few generous pinches of salt (less if your stock is already salted). Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce 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 pesto (see recipe below), a few drops of balsamic vinegar, and a generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese.

Basil Pesto
adapted from Food52

1 cup loosely packed basil
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil

While the recipe on Food52 has instructions for making this by hand, the easier method is to use a food processor. Put just the garlic in the food processor and pulse a few times to get it chopped into small pieces. Add the basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil to your chopped garlic, then run the food processor until the basil has been finely chopped and the ingredients have been combined.

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