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Minestrone with Pesto

ingredients

serves 6
175 g (6 oz) scant 1 cup dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight
2.5 litres (4 pints) 10 cups water or stock
1 large onion, chopped
1 leek, trimmed and sliced thinly
2 celery stalks, sliced very thinly
2 carrots, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped roughly
1 courgette (zucchini), trimmed and sliced thinly
2 potatoes, diced
90 g (3 oz) elbow macaroni (or other small macaroni)
salt and pepper
4 - 6 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan

pesto

2 tbsp pine kernels (nuts)
5 tbsp olive oil
2 bunches basil, stems removed
4 - 6 garlic cloves, crushed
90 g (3 oz) 1/2 cup Pecorino or Parmesan, grated
salt and pepper

method

1. Drain the beans, rinse and put in a saucepan with the water or stock. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 1 hour.

2. Add the onion, leek, celery, carrots and oil. Cover and simmer for 4-5 minutes.

3. Add the tomatoes, courgette (zucchini), potatoes and macaroni and seasoning. Cover again and continue to simmer for about 30 minutes or until very tender.

4. Meanwhile, make the pesto. Fry the pine kernels (nuts) in 1 tablespoon of the oil until pale brown, then drain. Put the basil into a food processor or blender with the nuts and garlic. Process until well chopped. Alternatively, chop finely by hand and pound with a pestle and mortar. Gradually add the oil until smooth. Turn into a bowl, add the cheese and seasoning, and mix thoroughly.

5. Stir 1 1/2 tablespoons of the pesto into the soup until well blended. Simmer for a further 5 minutes and adjust the seasoning. Serve very hot, sprinkled with the cheese.

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