For the soup:
- 4 generous tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 1 leek, sliced
- 8 oz peeled butternut squash, cubed
- 1 small fennel bulb, sliced
- 1 potato (about 6 oz), in small chunks
- salt and pepper
- 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 14 oz can cannellini or borlotti beans
For the pesto:
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 6 tbsp pine nuts
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan. Add the onion and carrot and saute for 5 minutes. Add the other vegetables, season, and saute for 10 minutes. Pour in the stock and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse the beans. Add and cook for 5 minutes.
2. To make the pesto put the nuts, garlic, and parsley into a food processor with seasoning and half the oil. Pulse to blend, then stir in the remaining oil and the Parmesan. Top the soup with spoonfuls of pesto, serving the rest alongside.
Parsley and walnut pesto is great with spaghetti (add chunks of ricotta salata to make it go further). It’s also good with pasta, goat cheese, and fried radicchio.
Summer soupe au pistou: Gently cook 1 leek, 1 large potato, and 1 celery stalk, all chopped, in olive oil for 5 minutes, stirring. Add 4 1/2 cups chicken stock, season, and cook for 10 minutes. Add 2 zucchini, chopped; 8 oz green beans, trimmed; 1 1/4 cups cooked drained navy beans; and 12 cherry tomatoes, quartered. Cook for 5 minutes, uncovered, then add 2 tbsp chopped parsley. Put 2 bunches basil, 3 garlic cloves, salt, and pepper in a blender, process and add 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Top the soup with spoonfuls of pistou and grated Parmesan. Serves 4-6.
Hot-and-sour soup: Put 2 lemon grass stalks, shredded and 1in fresh ginger, finely chopped; 2 shallots, sliced; 6 scallions, chopped; 3 fresh red chiles, seeded and finely sliced; and 4 kaffir lime leaves into 3 qt chicken stock. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add 4 oz cups oyster mushrooms, sliced; 3 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken, 2 tbsp fish sauce, and 2 tsp light brown sugar and gently heat for about 3 minutes. Stir in 2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro and the juice of 1/2 lime. Taste. Add more lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, or chile, to taste. Serves 6.