Winter Minestrone with Pesto Croutons

These past couple of weeks with Christmas, My seventh year wedding anniversary, new year’s, a family temple sealing, lots of family get-togethers and then getting a really bad cold have caused me to put my blog on the back burner for a little while. Since I started it, I don’t know if I have ever taken this long of a break in-between posts, so it’s going to be hard to get back into the swing of things, but there’s nothing quite like new year’s to get you re-motivated!
 This year I have so many new year’s resolutions, that i’m actually trying to narrow them down because I know I can’t do them all! My three biggest goals are: to enter a bake-off, to bring my Blog to a whole new level, and to write and illustrate a children’s book. I know those goals might seem crazy, but that’s just me. Crazy! I guess I will update you as I go, and we’ll see this time next year how those have worked out!

But until then, I am just going to continue to do what I love–cooking awesome things to share with you all! Here is a recipe for a winter minestrone that I made BEFORE Christmas! I am pretty behind, but I have had such a nice, long break that i’m ready for some mass-posting! So enjoy this recipe and the ones ahead, and happy new year’s to you all!

Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 strips of smoky bacon
2 large carrots, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
14.5oz can chopped tomatoes
1 cup small pasta
4 1/2 cups vegetable broth/stock
2 tsp chopped sage
few cabbage leaves, shredded
handful of fresh green beans
handful of chopped parsley
{for the pesto croutons}
slices of crusty bread
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp pesto

Directions:
Fry the bacon in a pan over medium high heat for about 3-5 minutes on either side, to desired doneness. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes until the onion is starting to brown. Add the carrots, celery, potato and garlic, stir well and cook for a few minutes.

Add the tomatoes, stock and sage, and bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat to simmer and cook partly covered for 30 mins, stirring in the cabbage  and pasta after 15 mins. Drain and rinse the beans and add to the pan with the parsley. Season and serve with parmesan cheese and parmesan croutons.

For the Croutons:
Preheat the oven to 425degF. Cut 3-4 slices of crusty bread into chunks, about 1″ thick. Place in an ovenproof dish. Mix the olive oil and pesto, then add to the bread, tossing it with your hands or a spoon until the croutons are evenly coated. Bake for about 10 mins until crisp.

This minestrone is by FAR the best I have ever had! My husband even said it was “fantastic” and he doesn’t throw words around like that very often, so I hope you all love it! Upcoming I have Julia Child’s Coq Au Vin step by step, an amazing shrimp and crab bisque, and a chocolate hazelnut roulade that was so quick and easy, it kind of blew my mind! I am hoping 2013 will be my best year of recipes yet, so please check back to read often!

<3 Sarah