Summer Minestrone al Pesto
Some vegetable soups are complex and long-simmered. This light, brothy one brims with full-flavored summer vegetables for a minestrone that comes together in a half an hour or so. If you don't have a vegetable garden, look to the farmers' market for the freshest, sweetest produce. For a warm-weather lunch or supper, the simplicity of this soup is very appealing.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 3tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1large onion, diced, about 1 1/2 cups
- Salt and pepper
- 6garlic cloves, minced
- 1bay leaf
- 1tablespoon tomato paste
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- Splash of white wine (optional)
- 2large very ripe sweet tomatoes, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 3or 4 zucchini or summer squash, chopped into roughly 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
- ½pound romano beans, ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths (about 2 cups)
- 2cups small, dry pasta, such as pennette or orecchiette
- ½pound small green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2medium garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 2cups basil leaves, loosely packed, washed and dried
- 1cup parsley leaves, loosely packed, washed and dried
- ¾cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
Step 1Set a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat, and add olive oil. When oil is hot, add onion and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened and just beginning to color, 5 or 6 minutes.
Step 2Add garlic, bay leaf, tomato paste and red pepper. Cook, stirring, for another minute, then add wine, if using, and tomatoes, and bring to a brisk simmer.
Step 3Add 8 cups water and a good pinch of salt and let mixture return to a brisk simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, then taste for seasoning. The broth should be well seasoned before the vegetables go in.
Step 4Make the pesto: As the broth simmers, pound the garlic and salt to a paste in a large mortar. Beginning with a few basil leaves at a time, pound basil to a paste, then add parsley leaves and a little salt. Continue to pound until all the basil and parsley have been pounded into a coarse green paste. (Alternatively, many people may wish to make the pesto in a food processor.)
Step 5Transfer to a serving bowl and whisk in olive oil and Parmesan. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Set pesto aside covered with a thin layer of oil or with plastic film pressed against its surface to prevent oxidation.
Step 6Add the zucchini, romano beans and pasta to the simmering broth and cook 7 to 8 minutes, until pasta is al dente. Add green beans and cook for a minute or 2.
Step 7Ladle soup into bowls, topping each with a dollop of pesto. Pass more grated Parmesan at the table.