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Genoese Vegetable Soup with Small Shells

Genoese  vegetable soup with small shells

(SERVES 8)

This classic vegetable soup is served with an equally classic pesto sauce that originated in the Ligurian port of Genoa. It makes a wonderful first course, for an informal dinner with family and friends.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 sliced onions
  • 2 diced carrots
  • 2 sliced celery sticks
  • 2 diced potatoes
  • 115g French beans, cut into 2.5cm lengths
  • 115g frozen peas
  • 200g fresh chopped spinach leaves
  • 2 diced courgettes
  • 225g Italian plum tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 litres / 3 ½ pints vegetable or chicken stock
  • 140g Nnova Rice Small Shells
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese, to serve

For the pesto:

  • 55g fresh basil leaves
  • 15g pine kernels
  • 1 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 25g freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

PREPARATION:

  • Put the onions carrots, celery, potatoes, beans, peas, spinach, courgette, tomatoes, and garlic in a large, heavy-based saucepan, pour in the olive oil and stock and bring to the boil over a medium-low heat. Lower the heat and simmer gently for about 40 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make the pesto. Put the basil, pine kernels, garlic, and a pinch of salt into a mortar and pound to a paste with a pestle. Transfer to a bowl and gradually work in the parmesan with a wooden spoon, followed by the olive oil to make a thick, creamy sauce. Cover with clingfilm and set aside in the refrigerator until required.
  • Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Add the pasta and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until the pasta is tender, but still firm to the bite. The soup should be very thick.
  • Stir in half the pesto, remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside to rest for 4 minutes.
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, and pesto if necessary (Any leftover pesto may be stored in a screw-top jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks)
  • Ladle into warmed bowls and serve immediately. Hand round the freshly grated parmesan cheese separately.

Cooking Tips:

To peel tomatoes, cut a crossing the base of each and place in a bowl. Cover with boiling water and leave for 30-45 seconds. Drin and plunge into cold water, then the skins will slide off easily.


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