Smoky Minestrone with Tortellini and Parsley or Basil Pesto

 

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

What you will need

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

Salt

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

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

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