The secret to a delicious minestrone is to use a variety of good vegetables and allow the ingredients to simmer for at least an hour.
Yield: serves 4
For the Soup
- 1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
- 1⁄4 lb. swiss chard
- 1⁄4 lb. spinach
- 2 small zucchini, diced
- 2 medium white potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 Japanese eggplants, peeled and diced
- 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups tubetti pasta
- 2 cups cooked white beans
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the Pesto
- 2 Tbsp. pine nuts
- 1⁄2 tsp. salt
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 2 cups packed basil leaves
- 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. grated parmigiano-reggiano
- For the soup: Soak mushrooms in 2 cups warm water until soft, about 20 minutes. Remove mushrooms, 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, and olive oil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour.
- For the 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.
- Add pasta to soup. Cook pasta for about 10 minutes; add beans and cook 5 minutes longer. Stir in 2 tbsp. pesto, reserving the rest for another use, and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot or, in the Genoese tradition, at room temperature. If desired, sprinkle with additional grated parmigiano-reggiano.