Tuscan pasta and bean soup with basil
I am not quite ready to give up summer and open my kitchen to fall foods but you know how it is, I was in the mood to make a soup.
My kitchen is still full of late summer tomatoes, ripe stone fruits, potatoes of every kind, beets, pickling cucumbers and even some summer zucchini and I am trying to make the most of these ingredients knowing they are on their way out as the weather gets cooler. They will vacate their place in the markets and my kitchen soon enough, leaving room for new fall produce. The king is dead, long live the king.
My husband was out sailing on a windy day today and I knew he was going to come back hungry and maybe even a little chilled so I thought a soup would be quick and easy and heartwarming after a day on the cool lake. I think I was spot on as he is making all kinds of mmmm… sounds as he is enjoying a bowl of soup and a beautiful country bread we brought yesterday from a Vancouver excursion. He was too hungry to wait for me, that’s fine, he is enjoying himself.
This soup is an easy one to make and has an earthy quality to it with the beans and pasta. I sometime vary the ingredients slightly but it is basically a bean and pasta soup, whether you use pink beans or white ones or little shell pasta or another shape. You can make it with fresh tomatoes or canned ones but don’t skip the basil and olive oil flavouring as it makes a difference in this soup. If you don’t have basil you can substitute with flat leaf parsley, the flavour is different but just as good.
When you are ready to serve heat up the soup, pour into soup bowls, swirl the pesto into it and shave parmesan or grana padano on top. Serve with country bread and unsalted butter.
4 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 celery rib, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 28 oz can whole San Marzano tomatoes, chopped and drained, reserve juice (about 3 cups fresh peeled and seeded tomatoes)
4 cups vegetable broth
1-2 cups water
2 cups cooked white beans or 1 can white beans, (19 oz)
1 scant cup small shell pasta, can use vegan and gluten free
1 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts optional
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
Heat oil in a soup pot, add onion and cook until softened but don’t let it colour.
Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
Add the celery and carrots and cook until they begin to soften. You can add 1/2 cup stock to keep the vegetables from drying.
Add the tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to simmer and cook for a few minutes until the vegetables are cooked through.
Place one cup of the beans in a small food processor and process until pureed but do not over process.
Add the pureed and the whole beans to the soup and stir to combine.
Add one cup water, reserving the remain ing water to add later if needed.
Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the pasta and simmer until the pasta is cooked through.
Taste and add salt and pepper. Depending on your stock, it may need more or less salt.
To make the simplified basil pesto:
chop the basil and pine nuts very fine in a food processor or with a knife.
Add the oil and mix to a pesto like texture.
ladle the soup into individual soup bowls, swirl a little pesto into each serving and shave parmesan over.
Serve with crusty country style bread.
Welcome to fall foods.