Smoky Minestrone with Tortellini and Pesto

February 5, 2016
Smoky Minestrone with Tortellini + Pesto - A soup chock full of fresh veggies, with touches of indulgence from smoky bacon, cheesy tortellini, and pesto

Happy Saturday!

What are you up to this weekend?

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We're going to be taking it easy.  Although we” sneak away for dinner at our favorite steak house with my parents, to celebrate our anniversary.

This weekend is also mid-point testing for the latest 8-Week Transformation Challenge at the gym.  After a month of healthy eating and workouts, everybody gets to face the scale(!)

I'm excited to see their progress

I couldn't help but smile and think of them this week, an overheard conversation at the coffee shop

“Don't you think it's such a twist of irony that all of the New Year's get-healthier resolutions start in the dead of winter?

It's cold and icy outside, so it's harder to go for walks or ride my bike.  The time of year when I'm craving comfort food, mac & cheese, or roasts on top of garlicky mashed potatoes

Then we have cookies my daughter made this afternoon.  It was a snow day, and what else was she going to do?  Come 10 pm; they're calling my name”

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I'm far from the first to point out; the whole resolution concept is rife with peril.

I think of Bob Dylan's reading the ten most popular New Year's Resolutions (can you guess them all?) .. 12 TED talks that might inspire your own resolutions .. Famous people's resolutions .. The Anti-Resolution .. The 100 Thing Challenge .. Whole 30. And on and on .. and on and on

Admittedly, I'm no better.  My answer around the first of the year is: “I don't make New Year's resolutions”  Although truth be told, it's mostly because it seems I make resolutions every, single day.

“Maybe I should start drinking more juice.  My favorite food coach is always blending juices.  My aunt took on a 10-day juice detox and said she felt fabulous

I'm going to the co-op to buy juice ingredients.  What goes into juice anyway?  Fruit and more fruit?  Let's ask Siri.  OK, I'll need ice, veggies, and avocado. Fruit?  Ok, I can do this.  I'm on it.”

And for a while, I am.  Then I decide to quit because I second-guess the reason I started.  I'm doing this for the right reasons, yes?  I shouldn't juice just because somebody else juices, I should want to juice.

I should want to want to juice, but instead, want to bake some more potato-crusted cod and have it on a big salad.  As I'm pulling it out of the oven, I'm patting myself on the back for being above peer pressure, even if it's an ok kind.

Good grief

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By now, I should know better than to let it bother me.  This ever-elusive line we straddle between optimism and justification. Although I wonder if the world would be a little sadder place if we gave up on self-betterment all together.

In reality, it's really only the extremes of self-betterment that offer the losing positions.

I know myself by now and know that no matter how many times I've sworn off sweet treats, but if my brother showed up tomorrow with a coconut cream pie, I'd have a piece and beg him to

leave the rest behind

No matter how many times I swear this will be the day I have un-failing patience with our furry creatures, at 3 am we'll be lying awake thinking, “Ugh .. what the cats are doing THIS time?”

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This month's issue of Self Magazine features Kate Hudson, and her new book Pretty Happy: Healthy Ways to Love Your Body. I loved the things she had to say

When people talk about dieting, I'm just like, OMG relax.”

“I like living my life – I'm not highly regimented.”

“I don't judge my practice, ever.  That's what this book is about – don't beat yourself up. Throw that idea of ‘I have to, I have to' out the window.”

“Find the place where you feel really good in yourself.  We've been programmed to feel like we're under this great obligation to look and be a certain way. And that's what culture and society have gifted us as women. Thank you, but no thank you.”

“I don't take myself too seriously. That's how I am.  I think finding balance really is more about emotional balance, isn't it? The whole point is that life doesn't ever get easy. And so you have to learn to how to enjoy it”  ~ Kate Hudson 

Her beautiful ways of illustrating the old saying Everything in Moderation.  Or, as Adam Rapport says in January's issue of Bon Appetit, about being healthy-ish

“We're not ascetic,” he writes about the BA's food-loving staff.  “Instead, we think about what we eat, and when and why we eat it. We indulge when the situation arises (that reservation we've been gunning for; Shake Shack Fridays in the art department).  And we try to eat smart other times.”

Now there are some resolutions I can get behind (and stay behind)

Wishing for you the most wonderful of weekends!

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A minestrone that will meet all of your cold-weather needs.

Not only does it keep to the soup's reputation for being chock full of fresh veggies like kale, celery, and carrots.  It also adds just a touch of indulgence with smoky bacon and cheesy tortellini.

The smokiness of the bacon permeates the minestrone, giving the tomatoey broth an interesting depth of flavor.  A bright, rustic pesto adds a garlicky, herbal kick

No time to make pesto?  Your favorite brand from the grocery will work great.

Top the whole bowl off with Parmesan and aged balsamic and you'll have a weeknight dinner that's impressive enough for an impromptu dinner party



~ Adapted from EverydayHealth

Smoky Minestrone with Tortellini and Pesto


  • Soup
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 3 - 4 slices bacon, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 - 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp Italian spice blend
  • 1 leek, trimmed and sliced thinly
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 medium-sized zucchini, chopped
  • 1 potato, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (vegetable stock is also a great option)
  • parmesan rind optional
  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas or 1 1/2 cups cooked
  • 1 28 oz. can of peeled San Marzano tomatoes with juice
  • fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 cup kale, chopped fine
  • 12 oz package cheese tortellini
  • Aged balsamic vinegar for drizzling- optional
  • Grated parmesan cheese for garnish- optional

  • Pesto
  • 1 cup loosely packed parsley or basil
  • 2 Tbsp pine nuts toasted
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil + more depending on the consistency you prefer


  • Soup
  • Preheat a large stockpot on low to medium heat and add the olive oil to it.
  • Add the bacon to the pot and let it cook for 10 minutes or until it begins to brown a bit.
  • Add the onions, carrots, celery, and cook for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften.
  • Add the garlic and Italian seasoning and cook for a few more minutes, or until the garlic is becoming fragrant.
  • Add the tomatoes (crushing them with your hands as you go), stock, sea salt, and Parmesan rind, and bring the pot to a boil.
  • Lower the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 30-40 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  • Add the beans and kale. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the kale is wilted.
  • Remove the parmesan rind and discard
  • Serve garnished with a spoonful of the pesto, a few drops of aged balsamic, and a generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese, if desired
  • Store in the refrigerator for a few days or freeze for a few months

  • Pesto
  • In your food processor, add all of the pesto ingredients and blend until it's the consistency you'd like, adding additional olive oil 1 tsp at a time to thin it
Serves: 6
Nutrition + Show
Calories 326
Total Fat 14.4g
Saturated Fat 4g
Carbohydrates 37.1g
Fiber 4g
Sugars 8.4g
Protein 12.8g
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