Summer Vegetable Soup with Pesto

Serves 8

Bulging with farmers’ market vegetables, this soup is a favorite to serve in the summer. The rind from a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese adds complexity and depth to a soup made with water instead of stock.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 whole large leek or 2 smaller leeks, use all but tough green parts, trimmed, cut in half lengthwise, rinsed and thinly
sliced (about 2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 medium carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 stalk celery, diced
8 cups water, or more if needed
2 medium Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rinds*
3 teaspoons kosher salt, or more to taste
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juices, or 5 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 medium zucchini or yellow squash, trimmed and diced (about 2 cups)
1 cup green beans, cut into short pieces
Kernels from 2 ears fresh corn (approximately 1 cup)
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas or kidney beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
4 ounces small-shaped pasta, such as ditalini, cooked

1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/2 cup olive oil, or more if needed
A few pinches of salt
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

  1. Warm the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat; add the onion and sauté until golden and soft, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add leeks and sauté until soft, 3 to 4 minutes more. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes more, stirring constantly. Add carrots, celery, water, Parmesan rinds and 2 teaspoons salt, and bring to a boil. Simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes before adding the tomatoes, zucchini, green beans, corn and beans, if using. Bring to a boil again and then simmer for an additional 15 minutes.
  2. To make the pesto, place the basil, parsley, garlic and olive oil and salt in a food processor. Process until fairly smooth. Add Parmesan cheese and process to incorporate.
  3. Adjust seasonings in soup, adding more salt if necessary. Add the cooked pasta. Ladle soup into bowls, add a dollop of approximately 1 tablespoon of pesto and serve immediately.


If parmesan rinds are not available, substitute at least 1 quart of chicken stock for the water.

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