the appetizer:

This Hominy Minestrone with Basil Pesto recipe is from Lorna Sass' cookbook Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way.



Hominy Minestrone with Basil Pesto

Serves 6 to 8

Hominy adds a toothsome twist to this classic Italian soup, offering more robust flavor and texture than the traditional elbow pasta. The pesto is essential for vibrant color and flavor. If basil is not in season or time is in short supply, use your favorite store-bought pesto.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups diced leeks (white and light green parts) or onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium carrot, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 medium bunch escarole (about 8 ounces), coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups cooked Basic Hominy (page 36) or 1 can (19 ounces), drained
  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, with liquid
  • 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Pinch of sugar (optional)
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Basil Pesto

  • 3 cups (tightly packed) fresh basil leaves
  • Generous 1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
         (or a combination), plus more to pass at the table
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons olive oil

Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot. Add the leeks and cook them over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until they are wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and vinegar and continue cooking for another minute.

Stir in 2-1/2 cups of water and the broth. Add the oregano, red pepper flakes, carrot, escarole, hominy, tomatoes, and chickpeas. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook over medium heat until the flavors have mingled and the escarole is tender, about 25 minutes. Add a generous pinch of sugar, if needed, to balance the acidity of the tomatoes.

While the soup is cooking, prepare the basil pesto. Place the basil and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to chop coarsely. Add the cheese and salt. With the motor running, pour enough of the oil into the feed tube to create a thick paste. Add additional salt to taste. When the soup is done, stir in the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into soup bowls and top with a dollop of basil pesto.

Substitute cannellini, kidney, or navy beans for the chickpeas. Add 1-1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds when you add the garlic. Use flat-leaf parsley instead of basil in the pesto.

Buy the Book  

Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way
by Lorna Sass
Clarkson Potter
ISBN: 978-0-307-33672-9
Recipe reprinted by permission.


Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way


This page created January 2007

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