Minestrone is a hearty, Italian-inspired soup filled with veggies, beans and pasta. My version has bacon in it along with chickpeas, carrots, zucchini, garlic and onion. Plus, the best part of all, plump and chewy, cheese-filled tortellini.
Usually it’s filled with some boring old pasta (Did I really just write that? Strange to hear coming from this pasta-loving Italian girl.). The tortellini sets this one apart, making it special and different from your run-of-the-mill minestrone. At least, I like to think hope so.
There’s a million and one recipes for minestrone out there with one thing in common. They’re great for cleaning out the vegetable drawer! You can throw in just about any vegetables you have on hand. Butternut squash in place of the zucchini, sweet or regular potatoes, greens like kale or spinach, shredded cabbage and tomatoes too.
I had every intention of throwing some tomaters into the pot and I forgot. Nobody missed them. The soup was completely delicious without. If you like you can add a can of petite diced tomatoes or even some fresh chopped tomatoes.
Just don’t skip the tortellini.
The star of everything not-boring.
- 4 slices bacon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 carrots, cut into thin half moons
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, crushed between fingertips
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- salt and fresh black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 can (14 ounce) chickpeas, rinsed well
- 2 cups zucchini, cut into cubes, seeds removed
- 8 ounces cheese tortellini (preferably fresh)
- Parmesan cheese, for serving
In a large soup pot or Dutch oven cook the bacon until brown and crispy. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.
Drain most of the grease from the pan and add a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat.
Add the onion, garlic, carrots, bay leaf and dry herbs plus a couple dashes each of salt and pepper. Cook until the carrots are tender, stirring often.
Add the red pepper flakes (if using), the broth, chickpeas, zucchini and tortellini - if using fresh. If using frozen cook them separately according to package directions, drain well and add them to the soup.
Bring the soup to a simmer and cook 20 - 25 minutes, stirring often. Taste and season with more salt and pepper and additional herbs/red pepper flakes if needed.
Before serving remove the bay leaf and discard. Crumble or chop the bacon and stir it in.
Serve with Parmesan cheese and soup crackers or crusty bread.
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