The perfect winter dinner - - MHL Minestone! / by Brad Schmidt

minestrone

Winter is here in the Cascades and we are loving all the snow and cold nights.  When we have our days off each week we like to enjoy our dinner by the fire with a big bowl of soup, warm crusty bread and a glass of wine... Tried this new one last week and loved it... bet you will too.  besides being delicious, it comes together in about an hour!  Found on Food 52, a neat food blog you should check out...

Smokey Minestrone with Tortellini & fresh basil or parsley pesto.. your choice!

Ingredients:

2 slices bacon, chopped

3 TBSP olive oil, divided

1 leek, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 zucchini, chopped

1 potato, chopped

1 can (15+/- oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

3-6 garlic cloves, to taste

1 c kale, chopped

1  28-oz can San Marzano tomatoes

4 c chicken or vegetable stock

1  9-oz pkg all natural cheese tortellini

1 c fresh basil or parsley leaves

2 TBSP pine nuts

parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar for topping at service to taste

Directions:

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a large pot and add the chopped bacon, stirring until they begin to brown. Add 2 more tablespoons of oil and add the chopped onion, garlic and leek. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. After it's softened, add the chopped carrots, zucchini, celery, and potato. Stir for another minute or two, and then add in the stock, chickpeas, and tomatoes, crushing them with your hands as you go. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until the potatoes are just tender.

Take a whiff of the delicious aromas now swirling around your kitchen, and set to work whipping up the pesto. First, toast the pine nuts. Then, chop the fresh basil or parsley—then, chop it some more. You want it to be very fine. Add in the pine nuts and garlic and chop them too.  Set aside.

Once the soup has simmered for 30 to 40 minutes, add the chopped kale and the tortellini. Cook for another 5 to 7 minutes, until the tortellini is done, but not soggy, and serve immediately. Garnish with a spoonful of the pesto, a sprinkle of Parmesan, and a few drops of balsamic vinegar, if you have some handy, and buon appetito!