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. —Lorraine Fina Stevenski
about 8 people
packed whole fresh basil leaves, no stems
packed fresh Italian parsley leaves, no stems
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!