1/3 cup dry white beans (navy or Great Northern), washed
2 garlic cloves, peeled
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch fresh basil, leaves only
1 cup (4 ounces) freshly grated Gruyere or Parmesan cheese
2 small red potatoes, with skins
1 large carrot, peeled
1 small onion
1 small zucchini, with skin
1 small yellow crookneck squash, with skin
1 stalk of celery, peeled
1 large tomato, peeled, and seeded
1/4 pound green beans
8 cups chicken stock or canned broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place beans in a small saucepan and cover with a generous amount of water. Bring to a boil and cook, covered, until beans are tender, about 1 hour. Drain and reserve. (To test a bean for doneness, choose a small one. Smaller beans take longer to cook because of their dense centers. The bean should taste creamy, rather than powdery, inside.)
Make Pesto by pureeing garlic, olive oil, and a few basil leaves in a blender. Gradually add remaining leaves until all are pureed. Transfer to a small bowl, add grated cheese, and stir. Set aside.Cut each vegetable into even 1/2-inch dice and set aside. To avoid discoloration, reserve potatoes in a bowl of cold water.
Bring chicken stock to a boil in a large stockpot. Add white beans, potatoes, carrot, and onion. Return to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, 15 minutes. Add remaining vegetables and bring back to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook an additional 10 minutes, uncovered. Season to taste. Serve soup with a dollop of pesto in each bowl.
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