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Butter-Bean Minestrone with Basil Pistou

Servings: 4

This soup is a brothy celebration of all things vegetable, with a bright pesto-like basil topping. Tweak the soup recipe to use whatever you have in the crisper drawer. Remember that minestrone, like many soups, tastes better the next day, heated up and served with good crusty bread and some cheese on the side.


For the pistou

  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano
  • 1/2 cup shelled roasted unsalted pistachios
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the soup

  • 1 lb. dried butter beans or large limas
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium sweet onions (about 3-1/2 cups)
  • 1 large rib celery, diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 large carrot, diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 quarts lower-salt vegetable stock or chicken broth
  • 4 plum tomatoes, diced (about 2-1/4 cups)
  • 1 small zucchini, diced (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground fennel seeds
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 440
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 230
  • Fat (g): 26
  • Saturated Fat (g): 4
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3.5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 17
  • Cholesterol (mg): 5
  • Sodium (mg): 670
  • Carbohydrates (g): 39
  • Fiber (g): 13
  • Sugar (g): 8
  • Protein (g): 16


Make the pistou

  • Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Fill a medium bowl with ice and cold water, and set it nearby.
  • Blanch the basil in the boiling water until bright green, about 20seconds. Remove using a slotted spoon, and immediately plunge into the ice bath. After a minute, drain the basil from the water, wrap it in a kitchen towel, and squeeze gently to remove excess water.
  • Put the basil, Parmigiano, and pistachios in the bowl of a food processor. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the oil, and process until well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use. The pistou will keep in the fridge for about 1 week.

Make the minestrone

  • Put the beans in a large bowl, add cold water to cover by 3 inches, and soak in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Set a multicooker pot on the sauté or browning function adjusted to a moderate setting, and add 2 Tbs. of the oil, and heat until shimmering. Add the onions, celery, and carrot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Press cancel.
  • Drain the beans, and add them to the pot with the onions. Add the stock, tomatoes, zucchini, fennel seeds, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. pepper. Secure the lid, and close the pressure-release valve. Select pressure cook on the high setting. Cook for 25 minutes. Press cancel. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, and then hit quick release. Remove the lid carefully so that as it opens, the steam escapes away from you. Mash some of the beans, and stir to combine into the broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Ladle the soup into individual bowls. Garnish with a heaping teaspoon of the pistou and a drizzle of the remaining oil.


To make in a slow cooker:  Soak the beans overnight. Cook the onions in about 2 Tbs. of oil over medium heat, stirring frequently until translucent. Drain the beans, and add to the pot with the onions. Add the celery, carrot, and stock. Secure the lid (if working in a multicooker, open the pressure-release valve, and select slow cook). Cook on the highest setting until the beans are just tender, about 3 hours. Remove the lid carefully so that as it opens, the steam escapes away from you. Stir in the tomatoes, zucchini, fennel seeds, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. pepper. Secure the lid. Cook on the highest setting until the beans are tender, about 1 hour more. Remove the lid carefully so that as it opens, the steam escapes away from you. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with the pistou.


Rate or Review

Reviews (4 reviews)

  • carolfriends | 12/12/2018

    I made this in a the slow cookers. The fennel and tomatoes paired beautifully. The pistou made with pistachios was outstanding. This is the best minestrone I have ever tasted. I'd give it 10 stars.

  • User avater
    Pielove | 10/31/2018

    Yum! This was so good and very easy-- especially since I didn't bother making the pistou and just used Costco prepared pesto. The skins on my beans were a bit tough, but I blame the beans, not the recipe. Might try other beans next time.

  • moebears | 09/17/2018

    Really good and quick. I happened to have some home made stock, and I made it on the stove with canned beans. Pesto was delicious on top.

  • smartori | 09/13/2018

    This is delicious and the butter beans are an amazing addition.

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