Smoky Minestrone with Tortellini and Parsley or Basil Pesto
- 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
- 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
Adapted from food52.com
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.
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.