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.
- 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
- 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.
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.