While I am a summer girl at heart, the heat makes it difficult to do too much in my kitchen, so I am always happy when fall rolls around so I can get back to my happy place. Every weekend there is a bubbling pot of soup on the stove, awaiting distribution to my children.
This week I chose to make some minestrone. I still have veggies in the garden, so it is the perfect way to use them before they die out. While most traditional recipes are strictly vegetarian, I like to add a bit of my home-cured bacon. Whenever I smoke a batch, I cut off the ends of each slab and freeze them in soup-sized portions. They have a deep smoky flavor and add such a wonderful dimension to soups. But feel free to omit the bacon, and you can have a good vegetarian or vegan option. You can even substitute a wheat-free pasta to get a gluten-free version!
So head to the store, the farmer’s market, or your own garden and make a batch of this yummy and hearty soup. It’s quick to make and I had enough for 10 servings – plenty to share or freeze for later use.
1/2 lb. bacon ends, diced
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
1/3 pound green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 heaping tablespoons pesto
salt & pepper, to taste
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 bunch chard or kale, thinly sliced
1 zucchini, diced
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup elbow or shell pasta
Optional: grated parmesan cheese, for garnish
In a stockpot over medium-low heat, add your bacon ends and begin cooking. When halfway done, add chopped onion and cook until bacon is almost crispy. Add garlic, celery and carrot and cook for another few minutes.
Add tomatoes, broth, and pesto to the pot and bring to a boil. Add green beans, chard/kale, and zucchini and cook until your vegetables are al dente. Add in the kidney beans and pasta and cook for 10 minutes until pasta and all vegetables are tender.
Ladle into bowls and serve with parmesan cheese.