While it's positively packed with vegetables, this soup is still hearty and filling. We rendered the fat from pancetta and used it to cook the vegetables to add more depth of flavor. The addition of white beans and pasta help make it a meal.
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat has rendered and the meat is golden brown on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the pancetta with a slotted spoon to a large bowl, leaving the fat in the pot.
Reduce the heat to medium. Add the carrots, celery, onions, garlic, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, 4 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the potatoes and zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Return the pancetta to the pot, stir in the tomatoes and 8 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are just tender, about 20 minutes.
Add the kale, beans and their liquid and pasta and continue to cook until the pasta is cooked through and the kale is tender, about 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and season with more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with grated Parmesan.
Feel free to change out the vegetables depending on the season. We love using winter squash in place of the zucchini and sweet potato instead of the Yukon during the colder months.
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