Smoky Minestrone with Tortellini & Basil Pesto

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Smoky Minestrone With Tortellini And Basil Pesto

Minestrone was originally a very humble dish and was intended for everyday eating, being filling and cheap, and would likely have been the main course of a meal. Minestrone is part of what is known in Italy as cucina povera (literally “poor kitchen”) meaning poorer people’s cuisine.  The history of minestrone soup dates back to the Latin tribes of Rome. At that time, the diet was vegetarian by necessity and minestrone soup was something that they came up with.  It is said that the Roman army marched on minestrone and pasta fagioli (or beans and pasta).Onions Leeks and GarlicVariety Of VegetablesMinestrone is such a lovely winter soup. My chunks of vegetables were quite large so it was more a hearty stew than a soup but it’s up to you how small or large you want to cut your vegetables.  This recipe starts with  a little bit of bacon, but if you can leave it and proceed with the rest of the recipe. You won’t get the smoky flavour, but you’ll still get a great soup.  To get the smoky taste you can add a little smoked paprika.  Be careful with the salt.  You may find you don’t need too much because of the bacon and stock but add to taste, if necessary.

Minestrone SoupBacon FryingYou can use small macaroni or broken up spaghetti if you prefer rather than tortellini.  If you do just add at the end as for the tortellini.  I also prefer to cook any pasta I make for this soup separate to the soup itself and add to individual dishes at the end as I find that the pasta can go really soggy if you reheat any left overs the next day.

Minestrone Soup CookingTortelliniBasil Pesto

Smoky Minestrone with Tortellini & Basil Pesto
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 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 courgette, chopped
  • 1 potato, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 can of cooked chickpeas or borlotti beans
  • 1 can of tomatoes, with juice
  • Sprinkling of dried parsley and some chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup kale, chopped fine
  • 1 pack of cheese tortellini
  • balsamic vinegar, for drizzling- optional
  • Grated parmesan cheese for garnish- optional
  • basil pesto - optional
Method
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the bacon pieces and cook for a couple of minutes, until they brown and set aside. This stage can be left out of you are vegetarian (just add sprinkling of smoked paprika when flavouring with salt and pepper - see stage 6.
  3. Add 2 more tablespoons of oil along with the chopped onion, garlic and leek. Continue to cook, strirring occasionally, over medium heat until softened.
  4. Add the chopped carrot, celery, zucchini, potato and stir around for a minute or two.
  5. Add the stock, the chickpeas, and then the can of tomatoes, crushing them with your hands as you go.
  6. Add the cooked bacon, a few generous pinches of salt (be judicious if your stock is salted already). Add, dried parsley and fresh parsley (also smoked paprika if not using bacon). 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.
  7. 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 (if using) a few drops of the balsamic, and a generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

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