If you have been reading along for some time then you are fully aware of my long standing love affair with soup. If you are new here, well, consider yourself warned. The soup never stops! Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer- every season is good season for soup. Now admittedly, Summer brings on a few challenges for even the most stalwart soup lover. When the mercury rises and humidity wilts your hair into limp submission the last thing anyone wants is a hot bowl of soup. But wait! How about a bowl of cold soup?
For some reason you can’t take just any warm soup and serve it cold with much success. Cold minestrone? Cold pho? Cold crab bisque? Um yeah, no thanks. But if you break out a chilled gazpacho, a frigid melon puree, or an icy borscht, then you might get a few takers. This recipe for a chilled white bean soup with pesto, uses the best of a hearty winter soup (beans and potatoes) and swaps a sweater for a sun dress by adding a swirl of fresh pesto on top. The use of an easy homemade vegetable stock enhances the overall soup lending a subtle vegetable flavor to every bite. By keeping the potatoes in small chunks the soup maintains a substantial texture and will feel like a meal despite the fact that it only has 125 calories per half-cup serving. If the heat has you looking for relief and your soup pot is feeling neglected, then a chilled white bean soup topped with vibrant pesto may be just what you need.
(If you are looking for a healthy and inspiring cookbook this one is my favorite!)
Serves 8 (With 1/2 cup servings)
3/4 cup dried white beans, soaked overnight in water, rinsed, and drained
2 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
3 Tablespoons chopped onion
1 small leek, white part only, chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced (about two cups)
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon sodium-reduced soy sauce
pinch freshly ground black pepper
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves (plus a few more for garnish)
2 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped shallot
Place a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the oil, onion, garlic, and leek. Cook stirring frequently until the onion is soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Do not burn or brown the onions. Add the beans and the vegetable stock to the pot and bring the liquid to a simmer. Cook, maintaining a gentle simmer, until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Once the beans are tender, add the potatoes, thyme, soy sauce, and pepper to the pot. Continue to cook the soup for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.
When the potatoes are cooked through, transfer 3/4 cup of the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Add the puree back into the soup pot and stir to combine. Remove the pot from the heat, and let the soup come to room temperature before placing it in the fridge to chill, covered.
Place all of the pesto ingredients into a food processor and blend until the pesto is smooth. Transfer the pesto to a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and keep in the fridge until ready to use
Once the soup is cold, ladle 1/2 cup of soup in to a bowl and top with 2 teaspoons of pesto. Garnish with a basil leaf.