This is one of those fabulous soups you can easily adapt based on whatever vegetables you have on hand! Add carrots, broccoli, peas, parsnips.......clean out your fridge!
But, whatever you do, don't omit the "pistou" -- it's a version of a really bright, herbaceous pesto and adds INCREDIBLE flavor to the soup!
Photo: Stock Adobe
- 1/2 pound / 16 oz dried northern beans (soaked overnight and drained) OR 15 ounce can of white kidney beans
- 1/2 onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- A bouquet garni made with a few sprigs each thyme and parsley, a Parmesan rind and a bay leaf (take all the herbs and rind and roll in a cheesecloth, tie cheesecloth with cooking string)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 1 medium leek, trimmed and chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 6 cups water
- 1 15-ounce can, whole tomatoes, well drained, chopped
- 2 medium red or yukon potatoes, chopped
- 1/2 box of dried small pasta -- macaroni or small shells
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- 1/4 cup Swiss chard, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- For the Pistou:
- 1/2 tablespoon crushed garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 2 cups basil leaves, torn into small pieces
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup grated aged Gruyere cheese
Drain the white beans and combine with 2 quarts water in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Skim off any foam, then add half an onion, half the garlic and the bouquet garni. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes. Add salt to taste.
In a large soup pot heat the oil, then add the onions, leeks, and celery. Saute for about 5 minutes, then stir in the cooked beans and cook for about 15 minutes.
Stir the tomatoes into the pot and then add the potatoes. Cook for another 30 minutes.
Add the pasta and cook for 5-8 minutes.
Add the zucchini and Swiss chard and cook for another 3 minutes.
While the soup is cooking, you can make the pistou.
I use a mortar and pestle, but you can use a food processor if you like.
Pound the garlic with the salt into a paste. Add the basil a handful at a time and pound and grind until nearly smooth. Gradually stir in the olive oil a bit at a time. Stir in the cheese.
Ladle soup into bowls and top with a generous dollop of pistou.