Pam's Parmesan Minestrone

Serves 4

This is an excellent soup to make on a Sunday afternoon and eat throughout the week. I like to make a double batch and freeze some, so I can have it on hand for those nights when I don't feel like cooking. If you are going to freeze the soup and/or keep it in the refrigerator to eat throughout the week, store the pasta separately. Otherwise, the pasta will absorb all of the liquid in the soup and you'll end up with a mushy mess.

Cooking Time: approximately 1 hour, plus time to let the soup rest

Ingredients:
1 cup small shape, gluten free pasta, such as elbow macaroni (optional)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 cups good quality chicken stock
1/4 lb pancetta, chopped
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 cups finely chopped yellow onions (2 small)
1 cup small-diced celery (2 medium stalks)
1 cup small-diced carrots (2-3 medium carrots)
1 Tbsp finely chopped rosemary or thyme leaves
1 (14 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14 1/2 oz) can diced tomatoes
4 cups small-diced zucchini (5 small zucchini)
2 cups small-diced, peeled russet potatoes (1 large potato)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 parmesan rind
Instructions:
  1. Boil the pasta according to package directions, drain and hold aside.
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a Dutch oven or large soup pot, over medium heat.
  3. Add pancetta and saute until cooked through, but not browning.
  4. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant – approximately 30 seconds.
  5. Add onion, carrot, and celery and stir to incorporate. Put the lid on your pot and sweat the vegetables until tender (3-4 minutes), stirring occasionally so they don't brown.
  6. Add the chicken stock, diced tomatoes and their juice, and herbs to the vegetable mixture. Bring the soup to a boil and add the potato and zucchini. Reduce heat to a slow rolling boil and cook until potato and zucchini are tender, but not mushy.
  7. Add the cannellini beans and parmesan rind. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pot and remove it from the heat. Let stand for a minimum 30-60 minutes. (If longer than one hour, put it in the refrigerator.)
  8. Remove the parmesan rind, reheat, add the pasta if using, and serve.
Enjoy!