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"Gills' Bountiful Vegetable Soup"
by:  Sheila Sachs

Bountiful for sure, and bursting with basil—this vegetable soup has a Mediterranean kick thanks to the pesto topping, which fancifies it as well.

INGREDIENTS -- SERVES 10

SOUP
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
2 medium carrots, sliced into discs
1 medium rib celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 cups stock, vegetable or chicken
4 medium new potatoes, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes or 2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1⁄4 teaspoon summer savory (or 1⁄8 teaspoon marjoram and 1⁄8 teaspoon thyme) salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1⁄4-inch cubes
1 medium yellow squash, cut into 1⁄4-inch cubes
2 ears corn, kernels cut from cob (or 1 1⁄2 cups frozen)
1⁄4 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
1⁄2 cup elbow macaroni
1⁄2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1⁄4 cup fresh basil, chopped

BASIL PESTO MAKES ABOUT 2 CUPS
2 cups fresh basil leaves
4 cloves garlic
1 1⁄4 cups olive oil
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1⁄4 cup pine nuts, toasted

PREPARATION
SOUP: Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add onions, carrots, and celery. Sauté until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add stock, bring to a simmer, and simmer 1–2 minutes.

With the soup base at a simmer, add potatoes, tomatoes, summer savory; salt to taste and simmer for 30 minutes. Add squashes, corn, and beans and simmer 5 minutes. Add macaroni and simmer until pasta is done, about 10 minutes. Stir in parsley and basil. Season with additional salt, if necessary, and pepper to taste. Serve with basil pesto dollop.

PESTO: Puree basil and garlic with olive oil in a food processor. Blend in salt, cheese and nuts. (This will yield more than you’ll need, but pesto can be frozen and will keep in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.)

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