If you don’t want to make the bread, just make the pesto and spoon some on to each serving of soup, or offer a bowl of it at the table. It’s a good idea to keep Parmesan rinds. They give such an intense umami flavour to soups. The soup itself, apart from the pumpkin, is pretty much a store-cupboard recipe (you can use carrots if you don’t have pumpkin).
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
For the pesto
40g parsley leaves
25g pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, chopped
75g Parmesan, grated
150ml extra-virgin olive oil
For the soup and bread
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
265g pumpkin or butternut squash flesh, cut into 2cm chunks
2 garlic cloves, grated to a purée
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
2 tbsp tomato purée
50g Parmesan rind (or less if you don’t have much)
1 x 400g tin cannellini beans, drained
1 large baguette
2 tbsp chopped parsley
Make the pesto first so that it’s ready. Put everything except the extra-virgin olive oil in a food processor. Blend while gradually adding the olive oil. Season and whizz again.
Remove the outer leaves of the leek and trim the top and the base (getting rid of the greenest coarse parts at the top). Slice into rounds about 3cm in length.
Heat the oil and add the leek, onion, celery and pumpkin. Cook until the vegetables begin to soften, then add the garlic and cook for another 3 minutes.
Add the stock, tomato purée and Parmesan rind. Bring up to the boil, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. The pumpkin should be soft.
Add the beans and the orzo and season.
Simmer for another 8 minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Look for the Parmesan rind and scoop it out.
Making the parsley pesto bread is like making garlic bread. Heat the oven to 220C/ 210C fan/gas mark 7. Cut the baguette into slices without cutting right the way through. Set this on a piece of foil big enough to wrap around it. Put butter and some pesto in between the slices. Pull the foil up to cover.
Put on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
Serve with the soup, scattered with parsley.