The Best Quinoa Minestrone
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 oz pancetta
2 cups carrots (about 3 carrots), peeled and chopped
1 cup celery (about 2 stalks), chopped
1 large russet potato, peeled and chopped into large pieces
1 large yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried red pepper falkes
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
8 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
salt and black pepper, to taste
1 cup dry quinoa
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
10 oz baby spinach (roughly chopped if desired)
½ cup pinot grigio (or similar wine)
2 tablespoons pesto (I used my homemade pistachio pesto)
Shredded parmesan cheese, optional
Baguette smothered in my pistachio pesto, optional, but highly recommended!
Start by prepping your pancetta and vegetables. Cut the pancetta into medium sized chunks (larger than bite sized, because they'll cook down in the pan) and roughly chop some carrots and celery. Then peel and chop a large russet potato. I keep these chunks larger, because they break down a lot in the soup.
Next, dice some yellow onion and mince some garlic.
Throw the olive oil in a large stock (or soup) pot and let it warm up over medium heat.
Once warm, add in the pancetta and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally, until lightly browned.
Then, add the onions, carrots, celery, and potato to the pot and cook for medium heat for 8 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften. Again, stir occasionally. In the last 30 - 60 seconds, add in the garlic, dried thyme, dried basil, and red pepper flakes.
Now add in the canned tomatoes, chicken broth, and a bay leaf. Give it a quick stir and season with salt and pepper. Don't season too aggressively, because the pancetta and chicken broth already have salt. You can add more later on, if necessary!
Bring the soup to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, lower to medium and simmer uncovered for 10-12 minutes.
Then add in the dry quinoa and cook for another 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the quinoa is cooked.
Now discard the bay leaf and add in the beans, white wine, and pesto.
Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the baby spinach.
Re-season with salt and pepper and place back on the stove to warm it back up, if necessary!
Serve immediately with an optional sprinkle of shredded parmesan cheese and a side of crusty baguette smothered in pesto!