Nothing warms up a home like a pot of soup simmering on the stove. Soup was almost always the comfort food my mom made for my dad whenever he came home from a long trip. It’s a food I associate with family and sharing. No matter how hard I try, I’m incapable of making a small batch of the stuff. I always wind up with tons leftover, and find myself giving it away to friends willing to take it off my hands (and by that, I mean Marianne, who has been my designated soup-taker for the last two weeks).
When an overnight frost came through over the weekend, I made a quick pesto out of my wilted basil leaves. As I looked through a magazine planning my meals for the week, a vegetable soup seemed like the perfect way to put my pesto into action.
Vegetable Soup with Pesto
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic
1 to 2 stalks celery
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes
1 russet potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 32oz carton of vegetable broth or home-made vegetable stock
1/4 pound green or yellow wax beans
1 small zucchini, cubed
1 15-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup macaroni noodles or other small pasta
3/4 cup pesto (store-bought or home-made)
1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring constantly, until the onion is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots and salt and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, stock and about 1 cup water. Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover, reduce heat and add the potatoes. Continue to simmer for about 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes are nearly cooked.
2. Stir the zucchini and green beans into the prepared broth along with the white beans and the pasta. Simmer until the pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes.
3. When ready to serve, whisk the pesto into the soup. Ladle into bowls and top with any remaining pesto. Sprinkle with shredded Parmesan or Gruyere and serve with bread.