Tuscan White Bean Stew with Fresh Basil Pesto

  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 roasted red pepper, finely minced
  • 3 cups cooked cannelini beans
  • 4 cups good quality chicken or vegetable stock
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • Lemon
  • 1 recipe pesto (see below)

For the pesto:

  • 4 cups of picked basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup almonds or pine nuts
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 3-4 Tbsp grape seed oil
  • 1/2 cup good extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

In a large Soup Pot over low heat, sweat the onions, carrots and celery in the olive oil until soft and fragrant (about 10 minutes).  Add the Zucchini, Garlic and and thyme and saute one minute more.  Add all the remaining ingredients.  Bring the stew to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Cook until all the vegetables are cooked through (make sure to taste every vegetable to test for doneness).  Season to taste with salt and pepper and add a squeeze of lemon if needed.  Serve hot with a dolop of pesto.

In a food processor or industrial blender combine all the ingredients except the olive oil.  Blend thoroughly until very smooth.  If the pesto is very loose add more basil, it should be a little thicker than spaghetti sauce.  Add the olive oil and blend just one second more.  Add salt and pepper to taste.