Makes about 2 quarts
In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add bacon and fry until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the leek and onion and saute until soft, about 4 minutes. Add chicken stock, 4 cups water, tomatoes, cheese rinds, carrots, celery, beans, basil, and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add zucchini, potatoes, salt, and pepper. Return to a simmer and cook for 1 hour, or until beans and potatoes are tender.
Add spinach and cook for 15 minutes. Remove cheese rinds with a slotted spoon and discard. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary; serve hot.
- If your soup gets too thick before serving, you may need to add a bit more water or chicken stock.
- For a heartier Minestrone, try adding 1 cup cubed French or Italian bread or 1 1/2 cups cooked elbow macaroni to soup just before serving.