I have been mentally preparing myself for winter this week. I’ve spent hours shopping for a new coat to try and get psyched about the very short autumn we inevitably get here in Nashville before it turns bitterly cold. I’ve been filling my house with candles to get cozy, watching movies bundled in a blanket at night, and reading A Christmas Carol, which I do every year. But one of the best ways to get excited about winter is making a big pot of comforting Minestrone with Smoky Bacon. My favorite soups will always include beans, but more importantly smoky bacon. This week I had the opportunity to take some photos at Gifford’s Bacon, and I am now obsessed with this delicious thick-sliced smoked bacon. It’s the perfect accompaniment to any soup, but especially my minestrone.
I added some fire roasted diced tomatoes, which are another favorite dinner hero of mine. They add so much flavor where things could really get bland. Let’s face it, vegetables are not always as exciting as bacon. But when you put them together, magic happens. This recipe can use any kind of vegetables. If you don’t have green beans, consider using frozen peas. If you have a bunch of greens, feel free to throw them in. Just use what you have, and it will be great! I may say don’t add other types of more flavorful squash like acorn, kuri or butternut, but you can certainly add more mild squashes like yellow summer squash.
Let’s get started on this recipe! First add your olive oil to a big dutch oven or other heavy soup pot over medium high heat. Cut your bacon crosswise into 1/2 inch strips and saute them in the oil until nice and browned. Add the onion, carrots, and celery to the bacon and start sweating them for about 8 minutes or until the onions are translucent and the carrots begin to soften. To the same pot, add the zucchini, garlic, oregano, bay leaves, dried basil and kosher salt and stir, cooking for another 2-3 minutes.
Add in your potato, parmesan rind, broth, tomatoes, and beans. Fill the can a third of the way with water and add this to the mixture. Bring to a rolling boil, then turn down the soup to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour. About ten minutes before the soup is done, bring a small pot of water to a boil. To this, add your ditalini noodles and cook them until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain them and set aside.
Once your soup has cooked 45 minutes to an hour, add your green beans and cook another five minutes or until the green beans are bright and slightly softened but not soggy. Add a scoop of noodles to each soup bowl, and ladle the soup over the noodles. Top the soup with fresh basil, parmesan, and fresh parsley. I even topped mine with a little chili oil! Try the full recipe below.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 slices of smoked bacon
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 zucchini, sliced into 1 inch pieces
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 large russet potato, diced into ½ inch pieces
- 1 parmesan rind (optional)
- 1 quart of chicken or vegetable broth
- 28 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
- 2 15 oz cans great northern beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup fresh green beans, ends removed
- 1½ cups ditalini noodles
- fresh basil for topping
- fresh parsley leaves for topping
- parmigiano reggiano, grated
- In a large soup pot over medium high heat, add the olive oil. Cut the bacon into ½ inch strips crosswise. Add the bacon to the olive oil, stirring frequently until bacon is browned. Add the onion, carrots, and celery, and cook, stirring frequently for 8 minutes or until the onion is translucent and carrots are beginning to soften. Add the garlic, bay leaves, zucchini, salt, oregano, and basil. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the potato, parmesan rind, chicken broth, roasted tomatoes, and white beans. Fill the can a third of the way with water and add this to the soup. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Simmer for 45 mins to an hour.
- During the last ten minutes of cooking, bring a small pot of water to boil. Add the ditalini, and boil until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Add the green beans to the soup, and boil another 5-10 minutes, until green beans are bright green and slightly softened but not soggy. Taste for salt. Add a little ditalini to each bowl and top with soup. Top soup with fresh chopped basil, grated parmigiano reggiano, and chopped parsley.