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Soup’s On!

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I hear it’s been getting cold back east. How about that! I really don’t know what that’s like, since we don’t really have any serious form of winter where I live. In fact, it’s been in the high 70’s the past few weekends, and I even got in some much needed pool time over Valentine’s Day weekend.

pool time

“Winter” in Napa

I’ll stop rubbing it in. Because even though it’s nice to wake up to a fresh blanket of beautiful snow – especially if it means a snow day – and sit by the fire with a glass of port, drinking away the bitter winter temperatures, it gets old real quick. So this new Bon Appetit recipe is for you freezing east coasters. This spicy minestrone will warm you up and last all week long, so you don’t have to go back out into the cold to get dinner!

Spicy Kale Minestrone with Pistou (serves 8)

  • 3 sprigs oregano
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, white and pale-green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon (or more) crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 TB tomato paste
  • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, with juices
  • 1 Parmesan rind (about 2 ounces; optional)
  • Two 15-oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces baby Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed, cut into ½” pieces
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn into 1” pieces


Pistou (makes 1 cup)

  • 2 garlic cloves 
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Kosher salt

Using cheese cloth and kitchen twine (or in my case, a tea filter bag), bundle oregano, rosemary and bay leaves, then set aside.

Makeshift herb bundle

Makeshift herb bundle

Heat olive oil in a large, heavy pot over a medium-high flame. Add pancetta and sauté until browned, about 3 minutes. Add onion, leek, carrots, celery, garlic, and red pepper flakes and season with salt. Cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes. Then add tomato paste and continue to cook until slightly darkened, about 3 minutes.

Add tomatoes and juices, crushing with your hands as you go, then the herb bundle, Parmesan rind, and 6 cups of water. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Add potatoes, then reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add kale and beans and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove parmesan rind and herb bundle and remove from heat.

I made my soup, partially covered it, then ran out to the movies to see Still Alice (which I highly recommend, even though I sobbed through almost the whole thing). When I came home a few hours later, the soup was still a little warm but cool enough to divide into various tupperware containers. I took out a portion and reheated it for about 5 minutes in a smaller pot, while I made the pistoupistou

To make the pistou, plus garlic and basil in a small food processor. Transfer to a small bowl and add olive oil, lemon zest, and a generous pinch of salt. Serve the soup topped with a large spoonful of pistou.


There were so many things I loved about this soup. First of all, it was easy to make (as most soups are), and only took about an hour, including prep. I loved the combination of the herb bundle and Parmesan rind to enhance the broth, creating layers of powerful flavors, as well as the red pepper flakes to kick it up a notch. It was very hearty with the addition of potatoes and cannellini beans, but still very fresh tasting with the pistou topping. Bon Appetit suggests topping with roasted pumpkin seeds or a drizzle of olive oil and grated Parmesan – both of which I plan to try throughout the week as I devour my leftovers.

About Kelsey

Kelsey is a food and wine lover residing in Napa, California, where she does marketing for a boutique wine collective. She previously lived in San Francisco for over six years, where her blogging journey began. She loves to cook seasonal meals and experiment with new wine pairings. She has been drinking and learning about wine with her father since she was 14, and cooking in the kitchen with her mother since she was 6. Both of her parents taught her well about seasoning and flavors, and she continues to learn more with every meal that is made.

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