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For soup
1 small fennel bulb (sometimes called anise)
1/4 lb sliced pancetta, chopped
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium turnip, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 small cabbage, cored and chopped (2 cups)
1 (2-inch) piece of rind cut from a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)
2 small yellow summer squash or zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium boiling potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf (not California)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
9 cups water
1 (10-oz) package frozen baby lima beans
1/2 lb haricots verts or other thin green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 (15- to 19-oz) can cannellini or other white beans, drained and rinsed
5 oz baby spinach (5 cups)


For Pistou (Pistou meaning: Condiment)
3 large garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 oz grated parmesan (1/3 cup)


Make soup: Cut fennel stalks flush with bulb, discarding them, and trim off any tough outer layers from bulb. Chop fennel into 1/2-inch pieces.

Cook pancetta in oil in a 7- to 9-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in fennel, onion, turnip, carrots, and cabbage and cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is wilted, 5 to 7 minutes. Add cheese rind, squash, potato, thyme sprigs, bay leaf, salt, and water and bring to a boil.


Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Add lima beans, green beans, and cannellini and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Discard cheese rind, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf. Stir in spinach and season with salt and pepper.


Make pistou while soup is simmering: Mince and mash garlic to a paste with salt (or pound with a mortar and pestle). Blend with basil in a food processor until basil is finely chopped. Add oil and cheese and purée.


Top servings with a spoonful of pistou, then stir.


Makes 6 to 8 (makes about 16 cups) servings.


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