White Bean and Pesto Soup

Ever since I got my super cute mini food processor for Christmas I've been dying to make some pesto. Of course, winter isn't exactly the best time for basil so pesto got put in the back burner until yesterday. Bloomingfoods had some lovely living basil plants so I scooped one up, went straight home, and tried out this soup.

This pesto is very basic, no pine nuts or walnuts, just basil, garlic and olive oil. Parmesan cheese is added at the end of cooking. For my soup I used a can of chickpeas and a can of great northern beans because those were what I had in my pantry. It tasted great, but next time I think I'll skip the chickpeas. They were nice enough, but stayed a little too firm and didn't work as well as I would have liked with the pesto. The great northern beans, on the other hand, were delicious. They got nice and creamy and absorbed the pesto flavor beautifully. I'm sure cannellini beans would work just as well, but I didn't have any!

The recipe is ridiculously simple, but so flavorful. The garlic from the pesto cooks just enough in the liquid to take out the raw flavor. I modified the recipe a bit, adding a bit more chicken broth to increase the liquid to bean ratio. I also added some lemon juice which I think takes the soup to a whole new level of deliciousness. Seriously, basil + garlic + lemon = awesome!soup. Definitely serve this up with some crusty bread, the broth is perfect for dipping.

Simple White Bean and Pesto Soup
adapted from Barbara Kafka via Serious Eats

1 bunches basil, leaves rinsed and dried
1-2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
4 cups cooked white beans, about 2 19-ounce cans drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons Parmesan, grated
1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus more to taste
Black pepper
Salt (optional)
1. Add the basil and garlic to a food processor. Blend for a few seconds until finely chopped. With the machine still running, drizzle in the olive oil. Once it is a uniform puree, turn the food processor off, and scrape out the pesto. You'll probably have more than you'll need, but the excess will freeze really well.
2. Pour the chicken stock into a pot. Add the beans and turn the heat to medium-high. When it comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and add 1 heaping tablespoon of the pesto and a few cracks of black pepper. Simmer for a few minutes. Add lemon juice and parmesan cheese, taste and season with salt and more pepper if necessary. Serve with more parmesan and plenty of crusty bread.


  1. This looks delish - It's been so cold here a nice refreshing light soup would be wonderful!

  2. This is a wonderful twist to my traditional pesto. Thanks for sharing this wonderful meal. I'd love to try this one soon!

  3. @Amie - Thanks! It really is light and lovely. I even ate some of the leftovers cold and they were delish!

    @Alisa - Thank you! Let me know if you end up trying it out :)


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