Cup of Garden Soup

cup of garden soup 
I saw this recipe in last month's Better Home and Gardens magazine where they had a special feature from Jamie Oliver. Since I have been on the lookout for healthy recipes, this one caught my eye. I was pleasantly surprised at how flavorful and filling it was! The rest of the family even liked it for the most part too. Jamie says you can use whatever veggies you happen to have in your garden and since I don't have one, I just followed the recipe pretty closely :-) and it was great!

* 1 Tbsp. olive oil
* 2 strips of smoked bacon, finely chopped (I used 4 strips turkey bacon, or leave it out to keep it vegetarian)
* 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
* 1 medium red onion, peeled, halved and finely chopped
* 2 carrots, washed and finely chopped
* 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
* 1 zucchini, finely chopped
* 1 small leek, washed and finely chopped (I used 4 green onions)
* 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
* 1 bay leaf
* 2 14.5-oz cans chopped plum tomatoes (I used fire-roasted garlic)
* 1 large potato, scrubbed and diced
* 1 cup Romanesco cauliflower or cauliflower florets (I used regular cauliflower)
* 1 15.5-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
* 4 cups (one 1-qt. container) reduced-sodium vegetable broth
* Large handful curly kale, stalks removed, chopped (about 2 cups)
* 1/2 cup mixed small pasta shapes or broken spaghetti
* Small bunch of fresh basil (optional) (I left this out because I was already spending a lot at the grocery store)
* Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
* 5 Tbsp.freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the bacon and fry it gently until it starts to turn golden. Add the chopped garlic, onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, leek, oregano, and bay leaf. Cook slowly for about 15 minutes, stirring now and then, until the vegetables have softened.
2. Add the cans of tomatoes, the chopped potato, cauliflower, drained chickpeas, and vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and cooked through (check by sticking one with a small knife).
3. Add 2 cups of water to the pan and return to boil. Once boiling, add kale and pasta and cook for 10 minutes more, or until the pasta is tender. If soup is too thick, thin it out with a little more broth or water.
4. If using the basil, tear the larger leaves into the soup and reserve the baby leaves for garnish. Season with a little pinch of salt and black pepper. Taste to check the flavors. Remove bay leaf and discard. Divide soup between serving bowls and sprinkle with the reserved basil leaves. Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese.