Gigante Bean Bowl

1/3 cup / 80 ml extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 cup chopped leeks
8 stalks of celery, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 teaspoon caraway seed, crushed
1 teaspoon chile flakes
1 14-oz can crushed tomatoes

1 lb. cooked white beans (Such as giant corona)
7 cups of water
2-3+ teaspoons fine grain sea salt, or to taste

1 cup basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/3 cup freshly shredded Parmesan
1/3 cup / 80 ml extra virgin olive oil

to serve: cilantro or radish flowers (optional)

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat place the olive oil, red onion, leeks, and a pinch of salt. Stir well, and cook until the leeks begin to take on a hint of color.

At this point stir in the celery, caraway, and chiles, then saute, stirring regularly, until everything begins to caramelize and take on color.

Stir in the tomatoes, followed by the beans, and then the water. There should be more than enough water to cover the beans. Bring to a simmer for at least ten minutes, although I like to simmer it longer if I have the time. Stir in the salt, and adjust if needed.

While the soup is simmering use a mortar and pestle (or chop by hand) to smash the basil and salt into a paste – the smoother the better. Add the Parmesan and olive oil, a bit at a time, and work into a green drizzle.

Serve each bowl of soup topped with a generous drizzle of the pistou. And a bit of cilantro or edible flowers to finish.

Serves 6.

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