I came up with this soup one October evening when the temperatures were unseasonably warm, and a hearty, chunky bean soup just didn't feel right. It's smooth and creamy without being heavy, a satisfying meal to help you through the change of seasons. —lastnightsdinner
Test Kitchen Notes
This soup delivers on its promise: it's hearty without being filling, creamy without the heaviness of cream. A hand blender, like the Braun MultiQuick 9, is the perfect tool for pureeing this soup, as you can control how smooth or textured you'd like it to be. —The Editors
Place garlic, salt and walnuts into a food processor or mini chopper and pulse. Add the basil and pulse again until you have a coarse, chunky mixture. With the blade moving, slowly add olive oil until the pesto is at the consistency you want (some people like a looser, more fluid pesto; I like mine a little tighter).
Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot, and add the onion, carrot, celery and salt. Allow the vegetables to cook for a few minutes until they begin to soften, and then add the garlic and stir. Cook for an additional minute or two until the garlic is fragrant, and then add the cranberry beans, stock, thyme and parmesan rind. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook 30 minutes, until the beans are tender.
Turn off the heat, remove the parmesan rind and thyme sprigs, taste and add more salt if needed. Using a hand blender, puree the soup until smooth. Whisk in the crème fraiche or heavy cream if using. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with a spoonful of the pesto.