For the soup
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1/2 fennel bulb, finely chopped
1x 31g pack basil stalks, finely chopped (reserve leaves for pesto)
3 garlic whole cloves
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
200g (7oz) spinach, chopped
1 x 400g tin cannellini beans, washed and drained
1 1/4l (2 pints) good quality vegetable stock
For the walnut pesto
50g (2oz) walnuts, chopped
large bunch basil leaves reserved from soup
2 garlic cloves, crushed
125ml (4fl oz.) mild olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the onion, carrot, celery and fennel. Cook for 5-6 minutes over a low heat until starting to soften. Add the garlic and basil stalks and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the tomatoes, spinach, cannellini beans and when the spinach has wilted, season with salt and pepper and add the stock. Mix well and bring to a simmer, cook for 10 minutes.
2. While the soup is cooking, prepare the pesto. Put the walnuts, basil, Parmesan and garlic into a food processor and whizz for 10 seconds or until nearly smooth. Add the salt and whizz again, gradually drizzling in the oil until it is all combined. Season to taste.
3. Once the soup is done, ladle into 6 bowls and drizzle the pesto on top of each one.