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Minestrone Verde with Sicilian Pesto
1 cup (lightly packed) fresh basil leaves
1 cup (lightly packed) fresh flat-leaf parsley tops
½ cup grated Pecorino Romano
⅓ cup EVOO
¼ cup pistachios (I like Sicilian), toasted
1 lemon, zested (about 1 1/2 tsp.) and juiced (about 1/4 cup)
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 leeks, halved and thinly sliced
2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
1 small bulb fennel—quartered, cored and thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or chopped
Salt and pepper
1 bunch thin asparagus, trimmed and sliced on an angle into 1-inch pieces
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup shelled fresh or frozen fava beans or edamame
½ lb. haricots verts (thin green beans), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 head escarole (about 1 lb.), chopped, or 1 bunch Tuscan kale (about 1 lb.), stemmed and sliced into 1-inch-thick strips
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Rind from Parmigiano-Reggiano
For the pesto, in a food processor, process the herbs, cheese, EVOO, nuts, lemon zest and juice, and the crushed red pepper until smooth; season with salt and transfer to a small bowl.
For the soup, in a large soup pot or Dutch oven with a lid, heat the olive oil, two turns of the pan, over medium. Add the leeks, celery, fennel, onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Partially cover and cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the asparagus, peas, fava beans and haricot verts; cook, stirring often, until the vegetables begin to soften, just a minute or two. Add the escarole, stock and cheese rind. Cover, bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the escarole wilts, 5 to 6 minutes; season, then discard the rind.
Serve the soup in shallow bowls; stir in the pesto.