- Course: Main Course
- Skill Level: Moderate
- Cost: Inexpensive
- Favorited: 12 Times
For the Basil Sauce:
- 2 cups basil leaves, packed
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the Soup:
- ¾ cup dried cannellini (white kidney) beans or 1 cup canned cannellini beans, drained
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped, or 1 (16-ounce) can Italian-style plum tomatoes
- 2½ quarts chicken or vegetable stock, homemade or low-sodium canned
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced thin on the bias
- 2 medium leeks, trimmed, washed, cut into 2-inch julienne, and rewashed
- ¼ pound string beans, trimmed and cut into 1½-inch lengths
- 2 small zucchini, cut into small cubes
- ½ cup vermicelli, broken into small pieces
- 1 cup tender celery leaves (from the inner ribs), chopped
- 1/8 teaspoon saffron threads
Prepare the basil sauce: In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the basil, Parmesan cheese, walnuts, tomato paste, and garlic until puréed. Add the 5 tablespoons of olive oil and pulse until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Place in a container, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use. (If you float a ¼-inch layer of olive oil over the basil sauce and keep it covered and refrigerated, it will keep for up to 2 weeks.)
Wash and pick over the dried beans and drain. In a medium saucepan of boiling water, cook the beans for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and allow the beans to cool in their liquid. Return the cooled beans to the heat, bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 hour or until tender. (If using canned beans, carefully rinse twice in cold water, and drain.)
In a large nonreactive soup kettle, heat the ¼ cup of olive oil over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes, or until they release their juice.
Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the carrots and leeks and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the string beans and the cannellini beans and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the zucchini, vermicelli, celery leaves, and saffron and simmer for 5 minutes until the pasta is tender. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the basil sauce and taste for seasoning.
Ladle the soup into warm soup plates and serve with the remaining basil sauce on the side.
© 1997 Christopher Idone
Nutritional information is based on 1/8 teaspoon added salt per serving.