This is a favorite French soup of ours. It’s essentially beans and greens with a big swirl of fresh basil pesto. It makes a whimsical and pretty presentation for a summer dinner party when topped with edible Nasturtium leaves to look like lily pads. It’s very healthy, equally beautiful and low-calorie. Serve it with a crusty baguette toasted with cheese and a glass of good white wine.


  • 1 pound Swiss chard
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons finely shredded fresh Parmesan cheese, plus extra for toasted cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 slices baguette, cut down the middle and open flat


  1. Remove stems from chard. Chop stems and greens and keep separate.
  2. In a 4-quart pot, combine broth, water, chard stems, beans, tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Bring to boiling and reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 15 minutes.
  3. Stir in chard greens. Cook, uncovered, 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
  4. In a small food processor or blender, combine basil, 4 tablespoons olive oil, 4 tablespoons Parmesan, the garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Process until smooth.
  5. Brush both sides of bread slices with olive oil. On a grill pan or under the broiler, toast bread on both sides, turning once and sprinkling on remaining cheese.
  6. Ladle soup into bowls. Top each with pesto and swirl. Serve with toasted cheese baguette.