This week is my friend Kelley's birthday. She and her husband used to live in San Francisco and I was lucky enough to visit them there frequently. Bless them for their generosity and hospitality. It was always a delight to get to spend time with them there and get to know the city with them as guides. I first made this soup for them there after a day of walking up and down those hills and foraging for fixin's at the neighborhood market in Pacific Heights. I always think of them and want to be back in San Francisco whenever I make it.
This is basically a minestrone with pesto. It's not so much a recipe as a guideline. You can make it with what you like. The thing that makes it is the dollop of pesto you add just before serving. I've been making this for years. I used to make it with chicken but now we use chicken Italian sausage for a little more flavor. I sometimes make it using (store-bought) veal stock mixed with chicken stock, sometimes just chicken. Sometimes I add beans, sometimes I don't. Do what you please. Experiment and make it your own. It's good to warm your bones on a cold, foggy day. It's best served immediately when it's made so the veggies and pasta keep their snap.
San Francisco Soup
1 pound chicken Italian sausage
1 medium onion or 2 leeks or 2 shallots, peeled and chopped
veggies: 1 yellow squash, 2 zucchini, 2 carrots, 1 pound green beans, chopped into bite-sized pieces
herbs: thyme, rosemary, basil, parsley, as much as you like
1/2 - 1 cup white wine
32 ounces chicken stock
16 ounces veal stock
1 small can (approximately 15 ounces) cannellini beans
1/2 - 3/4 pound short pasta like penne or rigatoni
2 large tomatoes, chopped, or 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half, to serve
1 cup basil pesto to serve
chopped parsley to serve
shredded parmesan to serve
Brown the sausage on both sides over medium heat in a little olive oil.
Remove from pan and cut into slices. Set aside.
If necessary, add a little more olive oil to the pan and cook the onion, leek or shallot until softened, several minutes.
Add your veggies and herbs and cook 2-3 minutes more.
Add your white wine and continue cooking 2-3 more minutes.
Add stock and sausage and bring heat up to high. Add your cannellini beans, if using. Bring up to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.
Add pasta and simmer until pasta is ready. Serve immediately.
Ladle into individual bowls, then add a few chunks of tomato. Serve with a spoonful of pesto on top of each serving and spinkled with fresh parsley and parmesan.
Serves approximately 6.