Vegetable Soup

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1/4 pound swiss chard
1/4 pound spinach
salt
2 small zucchini, diced
2 medium white potatoes, peeled and diced
2 japanese (or baby) eggplants, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 2 cups uncooked tubetti pasta
2 cups cooked white beans
freshly ground black pepper
Pesto
2 tablespoons pine nuts (aka pignoli)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano

Soak mushrooms in 2 cups warm water until soft, about 20 minutes. Remove mushrooms (reserving soaking liquid) rinse, chop, and set aside. Pour mushroom water through a coffee filter and reserve.

Wash chard and spinach in several changes of cold water. Trim and discard stalks from chard and stems from spinach. Chop leaves. Bring mushroom water and 6 cups salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add mushrooms, chard, spinach, zucchini, potatoes, eggplant, olive oil, and whatever other vegetables you may be using. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour.

To prepare pesto, pulse pine nuts and salt in a food processor until finely ground. Add garlic and basil, and drizzle in olive oil . Add Parmigiano-Reggiano and process into a smooth paste. After cooking the soup for an hour, add pasta to soup. Cook pasta in soup for about 10 minutes; add beans and cook 5 minutes longer. Stir in 2 tablespoons pesto, reserving the rest for another use (on pasta or bread, perhaps?) and season with salt and pepper.

Serve hot or, in the Genoese tradition, at room temperature. Serve sprinkled with additional Parmigiano-Reggiano.



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