Green Minestrone

In an attempt to allow my friend, Cassandra, to gain exposure to cooking, we have decided to make a different soup every Thursday before watching Grey’s Anatomy. We kicked off the festivities this week with some green minestrone. For those of you living in the NYC area, this soup was inspired by the green minestrone at Supper, a fabulous little Italian restaurant on 2nd Street and Avenue A. I recommend the Caesar salad with black sea salt and fried sweetbreads – it is a meal in itself.  We used store-bought pesto (“All-Natural”) because all of my processing equipment has died within the past 6 months, but I’ve included my mother’s pesto recipe at the bottom in case you are feeling motivated to make your own. The brand that we used seemed the closest approximation to the real thing (Buitoni is NOT – it has too much Parmesan, but it does taste better than the canned varieties that are not fresh).

Green Minestrone
2 tbs olive oil
[Mirepoix - thank you, Gabriel, for this word
1 yellow onion, diced
4 carrots, sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced]
2 medium zucchini, chopped into 1/4″ chunks
8 oz pesto (see recipe below – if you really love pesto, add more!!!)
2 15-oz cans of small white beans
5 quarts of water (or however much you need for your stock pot)
Soup pasta of your choice (dittalini work well in this soup, we used miniature shells)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Put the olive oil in a stock pot, and add the onion when the oil is hot. Saute for about 2 minutes, then add the carrot, celery and zucchini. Saute the vegetables together for about 10 minutes, until they are slightly softened. Stir in the pesto and saute for about 5 more minutes.
2. Add the water followed by the white beans, then add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
3. Just before serving, cook pasta according to directions and add to the soup.

Pesto
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2/3 c packed fresh basil leaves, minced
1/3 c packed flat Italian parsley, minced
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 c pignoli nuts (pine nuts)
1/2 c olive oil (may need a little more)

Whir dry ingredients in a blender or crush with a mortar and pestle to a fine paste, adding the olive oil a few drops at a time. Mix the oil in well after each addition until it is completely used up and the texture of the mixture is smooth. Pesto will keep in the refrigerator for several days, covered with a thin layer of olive oil and covered. Let warm to room temperature before using.

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