Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Summer Vegetable Soup with Basil, Garlic and Mint

This week, things got a little sparse in the vegetable department between farmers' markets. I looked at a motley collection of vegetables in the fridge and could only think: Soup. Why not? But it had to be a summer soup, and stand up to rigorous criteria: Distinct from winter soups, and delicious.

Starting out with delicious homemade chicken broth is definitely an advantage. I decided to de-winterize the soup with a fresh basil-mint pesto, and to add summer whimsy with a tiny tomato garnish. The alphabet noodles were another whimsical touch, and though I'd hoped words would appear, Ouija-like in the soup, none did. It was, however, truly delicious.

4 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
1 large carrot, sliced

4 or 5 spring onions, white parts only, sliced
2 savoy cabbage leaves, sliced
1 long, mild pepper, sliced
1 little serrano pepper, seeded and sliced (take care; if pepper is really hot, use less)
1 cup fresh corn kernels (I used some I'd previously taken from the cob and frozen)

2 cups loose basil leaves (principled ones won't do)
a sprig or two of mint
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon olive oil
generous pinch of salt

1/2 cup alphabet pasta, cooked separately in water and drained

Little cherry tomatoes to scatter on top

Salt and pepper to taste

In small food processor, blend basil, mint, garlic, olive oil and salt into a pesto.

Place broth and carrots in a kettle and bring to a simmer, cooking until carrots are beginning to get tender, about 5 minutes. Add onions, peppers and corn, and simmer for about 10 minutes more. Taste for salt and pepper. Add pasta. Heat well and ladle into bowls.

Top each serving with a blob of the basil mixture, and top with a few cherry tomatoes (or diced tomatoes if you don't have little ones).

Makes four very hearty servings.

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