winter minestrone with tortellini

With these last few brutal weeks months of Winter, I've been making a lot of soups. There's something about the slow simmer of a soup on the stove and then enjoying the hearty vegetables that warm you up inside and out. Soup is the definition of cozy.

This is one I've been making for years. Al likes it because it has bacon...and tortellini. I love it because it has layers of flavor, more than your standard vegetable soup. Top it with a dollop of pesto, a swirl of balsamic vinegar, and a sprinkling of Parmesan. So good you'll want this every day of the winter. 

Winter Minestrone with Tortellini
Source/slightly adapted from:  Food52
Serves:  8

  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 slices smoked bacon, diced (you can omit this if you'd like to make this vegetarian or I'll sometimes use the pre-diced pack of pancetta)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 leek, bulb and lower leaf portion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 russet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 4 C. low sodium chicken stock (use vegetable stock if you'd like to make this vegetarian)
  • 1 15 oz. can low sodium chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1 28 oz. can peeled San Marzano tomatoes, with juice
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 C. kale, finely chopped
  • 1 9 oz. package cheese tortellini

  • Pesto (any variety)
  • Aged balsamic vinegar
  • Grated Parmesan

  1. Heat a large stock pot to medium and add 1 T. olive oil.
  2. Add bacon pieces and cook until they start to brown, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate and save for topping the soup.
  3. Add 1 more T. olive oil (if needed - you might have enough grease from the bacon) along with onion, garlic, and leek. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. 
  4. Add carrot, celery, zucchini, and potato. Stir until combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add stock, chickpeas, and then tomatoes, crushing tomatoes with your hands into the pot (it's messy watch out - but it gives them such a great texture as opposed to canned diced tomatoes). Season again with salt and pepper.
  6. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered, 30 to 40 minutes until potatoes are tender.
  7. Add kale and tortellini and cook for 5 to 7 minutes intl cooked through.
  8. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed
  9. Serve with a dollop of pesto, a swirl of balsamic, a sprinkling of Parmesan, and that rendered bacon from step 2.

Note: This soup freezes well, but I'd leave out the tortellini and kale and add that when you are reheating it.

Nutrition: (per serving, not including toppings)
  • Calories:  241
  • Carbs:  35 g
  • Fat:  7 g
  • Protein:  12

Now doesn't that make you want to hibernate all winter long and watch old Robert Redford movies?  Me too.


{photos by me}
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