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garlicky cranberry bean soup with pesto


Garlicky heirloom cranberry beans simmered with tomatoes, lots of garlic and fresh herbs is a summertime treat around here, especially with a generous amount of pesto spooned over the top of each bowl.  I like a grating of Parmesan cheese on top of my soup along with a few shredded leaves of fresh basil, then I'm a happy camper.  Yes, fresh homemade pesto gives extra deliciousness in every spoonful of this cranberry bean soup. Rancho Gordo heirloom beans are my cranberry beans of choice and fresh sweet basil is in just about every outside container in my garden.  The elbow pasta, carrots, zucchini and cranberry beans make one of my favorite soups a hearty meal that can be made earlier in the day and served later, anytime you like.  I made my pesto a few days ahead and kept it in the refrigerator until I was ready to put the soup together for dinner.  

Ingredients and Recipe for Garlicky Cranberry Bean Soup
Serves 6

8 ounces heirloom dried cranberry beans, soaked overnight and drained
1&1/2 cups whole cherry tomatoes
2 small leeks, white parts sliced
20 garlic cloves, peeled and minced, remove green stems from garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
1 small bunch fresh thyme
Parmesan rind, for the soup- optional 
1 medium carrot, large dice
French grey sea salt 
1 medium zucchini, large dice
1/2 cup dry elbow macaroni
Homemade Pesto:
2 cups fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons toasted pinenuts
1 clove garlic, sliced
lemon juice, to taste
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra
Parmesan cheese, grated for serving
Fresh basil, shredded for serving

Place the drained beans in a large dutch oven or other heavy soup pot, add the tomatoes, leeks, garlic, bay leaves and thyme.  Pour in 2 quarts of water.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender.
Make the pesto in a food processor: combine the basil, pine nuts, garlic, drizzle lemon, Parmigiano and sea salt.
Process using on and off until the sweet basil mixture in evenly chopped, turn on the motor and slowly pour in the olive oil, stopping to scrape down mixture.  Transfer pesto to a small glass bowl, pour olive oil over the top, cover and store in refrigerator.

Add the carrots to the bean pot along with about 4 teaspoons of French grey sea salt and cook for 5 minutes.  Stir in the zucchini and elbow pasta, continue to simmer until pasta is tender.

Remove the bay leaves, fresh thyme and Parmesan rind.
Gently squeeze the cherry tomatoes, allowing them to burst, remove the skins with tongs.
Taste the soup for seasoning.
Ladle the soup into bowls with pesto on top, adding grated Parmigiano and fresh shredded basil if desired.


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