Soaking the Navy Beans (skip if using canned beans): Rinse and sort the beans. Soak the beans overnight covered in cold water. The next morning, drain the beans, rinse, and use as directed below.
Quick-Soak Method: Rinse and sort the beans. Transfer to a saucepan and cover with 2 inches (5 cm) water. Bring to a boil, and keep boiling for 1 minute. Turn the heat off, cover the saucepan, and let rest for 1 hour. Drain the beans, rinse, and use as directed below.
Cooking the Navy Beans: Transfer the soaked beans in a large saucepan. Add the bay leaves and add enough water to cover the beans with about 2 inches (5 cm) of water.
Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside while you prepare the soup.
Make the Soupe au Pistou: In a Dutch oven or large stockpot, heat the olive oil. Add the onions or leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent.
Add the thyme, diced carrots, zucchini, green beans, garlic, and salt. Season with pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables start to soften. Add the vegetable stock and stir to combine. If using dried beans, add the cooked beans and their liquid. If using canned beans, add the drained and rinsed beans now. Next, add the peas and pasta or your choice. Bring the soup to a boil, then simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked.
Make the Pistou: In a food processor, pulse the garlic with a generous pinch of salt until it is finely chopped. Add the basil, tomato, and parmesan cheese, and pulse again until the mixture is relatively smooth. Add the olive oil to blend everything together and emulsify the pistou. Taste, and season with more salt if desired.
SERVING: Ladle hot soup into bowls and add a generous spoonful of pistou to each serving. Keep extra pistou within reach because you’ll likely want to add more to the soup as you go.
MAKE IT DAIRY-FREE & VEGAN: Make sure to use vegetable stock and replace the parmesan cheese with nutritional yeast, or omit it completely.
MAKE IT GLUTEN-FREE: Make sure to use a gluten-free variety of short pasta.
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