Summer Minestrone with Pesto d'Inverno (Walnut Pesto)

For a deliciously flavourful and hearty soup try Valentina Harris's recipe for a vegetable minestrone flavoured with walnut pesto
By Valentina Harris
Summer Minestrone with Pesto d'Inverno (Walnut Pesto)
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4, plus makes enough pesto to fill a 500g jar
  • Cook Time: 1 hour if using fresh beans or 1 hour 40 minutes if using dried beans
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Effort: easy



  • 500 g walnuts, with their shells on
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 50 ml walnut oil
  • parmesan, grated, to taste (optional)
  • freshly ground salt and black pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp soft white breadcrumbs

For the summer minestrone:

  • 200 g borlotti beans, fresh or dried
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 300 g mixed green vegetables, (spinach, cabbage, Swiss chard, lettuce leaves or spring greens) chopped
  • 2 courgettes, cubed
  • 1 potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 carrot, scraped and cubed
  • 200 g short stubby pasta or long grain rice
  • black pepper
  • finely grated parmesan


1. To make the pesto, carefully crack and shell all the walnuts. If the skins are very tough, blanch the walnuts in boiling water for 1 minute, drain, cool and rub off the skins.

2. Place the walnuts and garlic in a large mortar. Pound them with a pestle to a paste. Gradually add the olive and walnut oils until the paste is reasonably smooth. Alternatively, use a food processor to create the pesto.

3. Add Parmesan to taste, season with sea-salt and freshly ground pepper and blend in the breadcrumbs. This recipe makes enough pesto to fill a 500g jar. Store the pesto in an airtight jar, topping with a little olive oil and use as required.

4. If using dried borlotti beans soak them overnight in cold water. Drain and rinse the soaked beans, place in a large saucepan, cover with cold water, bring to the boil and boil vigorously for 5 minutes, then drain and rinse. Place in a pan, add enough cold water to reach 6 centimetres above the beans, bring to the boil and cook until tender, but not falling apart. Drain the cooked beans, reserving the bean boiling water.

5. If using fresh borlotti beans, omit the overnight soaking but otherwise cook in exactly the same way.

6. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and fry gently until softened, around 5 minutes.

7. Add the cooked beans and mix well. Then add the parsley, green vegetables, courgettes, potato and carrot. Fry gently, adding a little reserved bean boiling water to moisten, until the vegetables are beginning to soften.

8. Add enough remaining bean boiling water to thoroughly cover the vegetables, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring regularly.

9. Add more liquid if needed, using either bean boiling water, vegetable stock or water.

10. Once the vegetables are thoroughly soft, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and stir in the pasta or rice. Cook gently until the pasta or rice is cooked through.

11. Remove from the heat, stir in two or three tablespoons of the winter pesto, transfer to soup bowls or a tureen and serve, sprinkled with a little grated Parmesan cheese.

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