In Italian the word “minestrone” means “big soup.” Although historically its base is vegetables, there are as many variations on minestrone as there are on pasta.
Common ingredients are onion, garlic, celery, carrots and tomatoes and whatever other vegetables are fresh and in season. Beans are a classic addition, as are either pasta or rice.
This unique minestrone, which I adapted from a recipe on food52.com, contains a 9-oz. package of fresh tortellini, which I think makes it slightly indulgent. However, since it’s also filled with wholesome, good-for-you veggies such as kale, it’s the very best kind of healthy indulgence.
And remember: by its very nature minestrone is adaptable. Feel free to substitute spinach for the kale, or use a different kind of bean. Don’t like to wash leeks? Leave ’em out! Not a bacon lover? You know what to do.
Minestrone with Tortellini
1 T. olive oil
2 slices bacon, chopped into small pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 leek, cleaned and thinly sliced
3 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 potato, chopped
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (original recipe used chickpeas but I’m not a fan)
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup kale, chopped
1 9-oz. package fresh cheese tortellini*
Fresh basil, chopped
Grated Parmesan cheese
*Cheese tortellini can be found in the supermarket refrigerated section with the fresh pasta sauces.
Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven and fry bacon until it begins to brown. Add onion, garlic and leek. Cook until vegetables soften.
Add chopped carrot, celery, zucchini and potato and cook for a minute or two. Add broth, beans and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until potatoes are just tender.
Add the kale and tortellini and continue to cook until both are tender and cooked, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in some chopped fresh basil, add salt and lots of pepper to taste.
Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.