Winter Minestrone Soup with Pancetta is a winter spin on classic minestrone with seasonal winter veggies like sweet potatoes, parsnips, and kale. This soup is hearty and flavorful, and perfect topped with grated parmesan!
Clearly I’m overdosing on comfort food lately. Chili last week, soup today…and I’m showing no signs of slowing down (don’t worry). 🙂 It is winter, after all, and we need cozy, soul-warming food. This Winter Minestrone Soup with Pancetta is going to make you forget all about classic minestrone — it’s that good.
That’s a pretty strong statement, and if you’re a minestrone soup lover, you’re probably wondering what makes this version so special. I’ll start by saying that I happen to be a minestrone soup lover myself, but I don’t really care for the pasta or russet potato that generally comes in it. That’s sheer travesty so some of you, I’m sure, but please hear me out.
The pasta in minestrone oftentimes gets mushy, and russet potatoes just aren’t my favorite. Whenever I make minestrone I always omit them or sub them out with ingredients I love. Like sweet potatoes or winter squash, and farro or quinoa. 🙂
Being that it’s winter, I had to add kale (like I needed an excuse!), and I also added a large parsnip. If you’re not familiar with parsnips, they basically look like white carrots, and they have a sweet, woody flavor. I always peel them because the peel can be bitter, but other than that they can do no wrong in my eyes. They added a nice, earthy sweetness to this soup and gave those carrots a run for their money.
Let’s not forget the pancetta, because that’s the biggest flavor booster here. The pancetta just works magic here, and really takes this soup over the top. I also learned a little trick about tossing a 1″ piece of parmesan cheese rind into the soup while it simmers toward the end that adds even more umami flavor to this soup. A bay leaf and chopped fresh rosemary give this soup some of the herb/spice flavor that makes it minestrone perfection.
Really…who needs pasta or russet potato?
I answered the question what makes this version special in a roundabout kind of way, so let’s summarize. This Winter Minestrone Soup with Pancetta has even more flavor than your used to from the addition of pancetta, parsnip and sweet potato. They give the broth a unique flavor that’s savory with a little sweetness, and the parmesan cheese rind, bay leaf, and fresh rosemary just fill in the gaps to make this the best thing since sliced bread. And speaking of sliced bread, go ahead and enjoy this soup with warm, crusty bread if you like. Or not! It really doesn’t matter…you’re gonna love it all on its own. 🙂
And now, it’s Eat Seasonal time! Thanks to Becky from The Vintage Mixer for organizing another month of Eat Seasonal, where a group of bloggers link up delicious seasonal recipes. January was full of so much produce I loved, and I was able to incorporate three — parsnips, sweet potatoes, and kale this month.
Please don’t forget to visit the other delicious dishes from the Eat Seasonal bloggers, as well as Becky’s January Seasonal Produce Guide for even more inspiration. You can also tag your own seasonal dishes with the hashtag #eatseasonal as well to join in on the fun!
Oatmeal and Citrus Smoothie by Floating Kitchen
Butternut Squash, Carrot and Orange Detox Soup by Vintage Mixer
Broiled Grapefruit by Bless This Mess
Gluten Free Gingersnaps with Lemon Cream Filling by Cafe Johnsonia
Meyer Lemon Tart by Kitchen Confidante
Potato and Leek Soup with Kale by Mountain Mama Cooks
Grapefruit and Avocado Green Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette by Food for My Family
Creamy Mushroom and Leek Chicken Breasts by Foodie Crush
Blood Orange Brûlée Upside Down Cake by Suitcase Foodist
Maple-Cayenne Sausage, Brussels Sprouts and Potato Sheet Dish by Project Domestication
Pink Grapefruit with Burnt Honey Custard by Letty’s Kitchen
Yogurt Brûlée with Winter Fruit by Completely Delicious
Grapefruit Pound Cake with Ginger Marshmallow Icing by Climbing Grier Mountain
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped into ½" pieces
- 1 large parsnip, peeled and chopped into ½" pieces
- 1 large stalk celery, tops removed and chopped into ½" pieces
- 4 ounces chopped pancetta
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- (1) 15 ounce can petite diced tomatoes
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups water*
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried
- ½ cup farro*
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped into ½" chunks
- (1) 15 ounce can cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1" piece of parmesan cheese rind (optional)
- 1 bunch kale, tough stems removed and chopped*
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, parsnip, celery, and pancetta, and cook until the onions are translucent and the vegetables have softened, about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, stock, water, bay leaf, and rosemary and bring to a boil. Add the farro and cook about 10 minutes. Add the potato, beans, and parmesan cheese rind, and simmer about 10-15 more minutes, or until the farro is cooked. Toss the kale in during the last 5-10 minutes of cooking to keep it from getting mushy. Remove the cheese rind and bay leaf and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve garnished with freshly grated parmesan cheese, and enjoy!
*Pre-cut kale or baby kale are great options to save time. Add about 2-4 cups depending on the amount of greens you like in your soup!
Recipe by Flavor the Moments.