Author Notes: Here is my twist on the classic basil pesto! Honey is the secret ingredient. Using both lemon juice and zest adds real zing to the flavor of the basil and parsley.
Minestrone means BIG SOUP in Italian and this fits the description perfectly. The zucchini is sautéed separately and added at the end of the cooking time so it stays crisp and green when serving the soup. The basil parsley pesto is added at the end of the cooking time to enrich the soup and then a dollop is added as a topping to serve. Serve this Tuscan soup with white or wild rice on top, a dollop of pesto and then a sprinkle of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. I like to serve my homemade cornbread to accompany this soup.
COOKS NOTES: Use your food processor slice disk to prep all the vegetables. They will be uniform in size. - Lorrainesfav
Serves about 8 people
- 1 cup packed whole fresh basil leaves, no stems
- 1/2 cup packed fresh Italian parsley leaves, no stems
- 1/4 cup good olive oil
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 2 tablespoons toasted slivered almonds
- 2 whole garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 whole lemon, juice + zest
- 2 tablespoons honey, Yeah!
- salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons good olive oil
- 2 cups sliced sweet onion, peeled
- 2 cups sliced carrots, peeled
- 1 cup sliced celery
- 4 whole garlic cloves, peeled + smashed
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffanade
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- salt + pepper to taste
- 2 -32 ounce cartons chicken broth, Swanson Natural Goodness is perfect
- 1 -15 ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 -15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained + rinsed
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, coarsley chopped
- 1 tablespoon good olive oil
- 2 medium green zucchini, skin on, cut in half, seeds removed, cut to 1/4" slice
- TOPPING: dollop of pesto + sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- MAKE THE PESTO: Add all the pesto ingredients to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse just until smooth. Add salt to taste. Set aside
- MAKE THE SOUP: In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil on medium high heat. Add the sliced onions, potatoes, carrots, celery, garlic, basil and thyme. Add salt and pepper to taste. Saute just until soft but not browned; about 10 minutes. 3. Stir in the chicken broth, tomatoes, cannellini beans, water and fresh parsley. Bring to a slow boil and then simmer partially covered for 45 minutes. Skim the foam off the top of the soup.
- MAKE THE ZUCCHINI+ FINISH THE SOUP: While the soup is cooking: In a nonstick skillet on medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon of good olive oil and the sliced zucchini. Saute just until soft but still crisp and green. Set aside. After the soup cooks for about 45 minutes, add the sauteed zucchini and 4 tablespoons of the prepared pesto. Reserve the remaining pesto for topping the soup when serving. Reseason with salt and pepper to taste.
- TO SERVE: Ladle a good portion of soup in a deep pasta bowl. Top with a portion of cooked white or wild rice. Top with a dollop of pesto and a sprinkle of Parmigiano cheese. Mangia!