The first day of summer is not officially until June 21st this year. I keep hearing about school being out, and the warm weather people are enjoying in parts of the U.S…. but here in New York, we are in school until the end of June and it is cool, rainy Spring.
I’m not complaining. I actually prefer cooler weather. I always say, “You can put another sweater on when it’s cold, but you can’t take your skin off when it’s hot.”
So we are enjoying the last Spring vegetables of the season in a soup. I got the idea of putting a swirl of pesto in the soup as a garish while waiting in the doctor’s office. Someone else always manages to get the food magazine before me, and I get stuck with Golf Digest. I kept an eye on the lady with the Bon Appetit and snatched the magazine as soon as she was called. I only got to flip through it a little. But I noticed a soup that had pesto in it. I loved the idea, and so my Spring Vegetable Soup with Pesto was born.
Spring Vegetable Soup with Pesto
by Diane Balch
preparation: 15 minutes serves: 6 to 8
4 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
1 leek chopped greens and all
1 large spring onion or about 6 scallions chopped
1 small fennel or anise bulb chopped
4 carrots chopped
2 celery stalks chopped
1 bunch of asparagus chopped
1 cup of baby spinach
1 cup of frozen peas
6 cups of chicken stock
1 teaspoon of poultry seasoning
2 cans of 15 ounce Great Northern Beans
1/2 cup of quinoa
salt and pepper to taste
for the pesto:
1 bunch of basil
1) Put the 4 tablespoons of EVOO in a large sauce pan on medium high heat. As you chop the vegetables add them with a pinch of salt to the sauce pan. Start with the vegetables that take longer to cook: onions, fennel, carrots, celery… then add the rest except the peas! Add the poultry seasoning, salt and pepper.
2) Stir and cook vegetables until they all wilt. You don’t want to get to the point of browning any of them.
3) Add the chicken stock and bring the soup to a boil. Stir and add quinoa. Lower to a simmer and let cook for about 20 minutes or until the hardest vegetables can be pierced with a fork. (It is best if the soup can sit for a while and be heated up to eat later.)
4) While your vegetables are simmering put a bunch of basil leaves in a food processor (a mini-processor is great for this) Add about one tablespoon of cheese and EVOO and give it a spin on high. Check if it is smooth enough for you, and if it is cheesy enough, if not add another tablespoon of EVOO/cheese.. continue until you get the consistency that you like.
5) Just before you are ready to serve the soup bring it to a boil and add the peas and the beans. Shut off heat and let sit for about 2 minutes. It is best to add these last so they don’t get mushy.
6) Drizzle each bowl of soup with the pesto and serve with a big piece of crusty buttered bread.