How most excellent is pesto and its cousin pistou swirled into vegetable soups! We do it in our 13 Treasure Happiness Soup, so called because it brings a sense of joy and happiness to anyone who eats it. More correctly it is a Provencale Vegetable Soup.
Our soup today is one of the Italian ones that combines pasta and dried beans, a classic soup pairing, with vegetables. The pasta used can be Vermicelli or Maltagliati – the irregular shapes of pasta designed to go into soups. A hand made pesto crowns the soup and is swirled through the soup before eating – a process that adds to the joy of hot soup on a cold day.
Minestrone alla Genovese | Genoese Minestrone
1 celery stalks
1 medium carrots
1.5 -2 Tblspn olive oil
75g green beans, chopped into 5 cm pieces
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
1 potato, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
0.25 savoy cabbage, shredded
100 cooked cannellini beans or haricot beans
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 sweet Laurel bay leaf
1 l vegetable stock or water, or more as needed
sea salt and black pepper
45g vermicelli pasta, broken into small pieces, or use maltigliati
Use this recipe to make pesto – make about 1/4 or put the remainder in the fridge or freezer for later use (A quick version of pesto is in the notes below.)
Chop the onion, celery and carrot into finely (you can pulse in a food processor until chopped but not toooo finely chopped). In a large pan, heat the oil and add the vegetables. Cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 6 mins.
Increase the heat to medium. Add the green beans, zucchini, cabbage and potato, and saute for another 5 mins. Then add the cannellini beans, bay leaf and tomatoes and cook for another 3 mins.
Add the stock with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer until all vegetables are tender, about 15 – 20 mins – you may need more depending on the size of the vegetables so check often. Stir occasionally.
Make the pesto – it can be made in a food processor but the taste is infinitely better if made by hand.
Add the broken pasta to the soup and simmer, stirring frequently for 7 or 8 minutes until the pasta is al dente.
Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve in bowls and stir through a small spoon of pesto in each bowl.
Drizzle with a little olive oil and then enjoy!
recipe notes and alternatives
Sprinkle with chopped parsley if desired.
A quick pesto can be made with 1 chopped garlic clove, 2 tspn pine nuts and pinch of salt (grind together using mortar and pestle), then add 1.5 Tblspn olive oil, 2 Tblspn grated pecorino cheese (grind) and leaves from a bunch of basil (grind).