I love making this soup! It makes me feel thrifty. I enjoy tallying up how many ingredients came from our garden. Make this soup year-round, substituting your home-preserved veggies for fresh in winter. It tastes good with all kinds of veggies, so feel free to use whatever is in season or on hand. It is even tasty without the pesto if you are running short on time (or basil).
If you wish to bypass commercially canned beans, see Cooking Dry Beans for instructions on preparing dry beans from scratch and freezing them in recipe-size portions.
For the Soup:
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1 carrot, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 cups Thrifty Stock
or 2 – 15 oz. cans broth
4 cups water
1 – 15 oz. can beans – garbanzo, kidney, or great northern
2 cups fresh green beans, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium zucchini or yellow crookneck squash, diced 1/2-inch
2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
or 1 – 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp salt
Black Pepper, to taste
3/4 cup small pasta
Pesto: (enough for 2 batches of soup)
1 cup fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
1/2 cup fresh parsley, lightly packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
In a medium skillet set on medium heat saute onion, carrot, and garlic on olive oil until softened, 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to 5 quart slow cooker.
Add broth and water to slow cooker, then beans, green beans, zucchini, tomatoes, and fennel seeds. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover slow cooker and cook on high 4 – 5 hours or on low 7 – 8 hours. Stir in pasta during last 20 minutes cooking time. Taste for seasoning.
Meanwhile, prepare pesto. Puree basil, parsley, cheese, and olive oil in blender or food processor until smooth. Freeze half the pesto for your next batch of Garden Vegetable Soup. (After some experimenting I’ve learned it’s easier for your blender to process a double batch of pesto.)
Just before serving, stir the pesto into the soup.
Tip: In the summer when fresh basil is abundant, make up a large batch of pesto in the blender or food processor. Freeze in a dedicated ice cube tray until solid, then pop the cubes into a freezer bag and you’re set! Label the bag and use within 6 months for best flavor, dropping a cube or two into soups, pasta dishes, anywhere you would enjoy a burst of fresh pesto flavor. Also see Pesto Now & Later.