I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but we are experiencing a fair bit of rain and miserable bitter cold winds up here. It is like February all over again in the North East, and February is officially the most depressing month of the year. What better way to pick you up on a cold May Day than a reviving winter soup of all things.
This week saw what is, hopefully, the last of the sad looking root vegetables. They look as though they have been through a few Februaries and are miserable, limp and ready for the scrap heap. The carrots are strewn over the bottom of my fridge, and only a stock or a cheap soup is the place for them. I decided that a little roasting with some onions and garlic would attempt to bring out any remaining sweetness. Ever the optimist of course.
With the soup made, it still looked incomplete. Perhaps it was the lingering thoughts of the sad carrots that had been made over like some cruel TV show. But it needed something else. A handful of pasta which had been cooled and fridged from last evening’s tea would add a bit of much needed carbohydrates and texture. But that flavour was still lacking.
A nice addition to the bag, which at least made it look like a May Day, was a handful of mixed wild herbs. Chervil, parsley, chives, basil and mint. In a last desperate attempt at creativity, I made a crude but surprisingly tasty wild herb and almond pesto which adorned the soup like a map of a country I had never seen before. But a quick whisk of the spoon and we were eating one of the best soups I had ever made. Seriously.
So not the most conventional of soups, and not one you would expect to be eating at the end of May. But when the weather turns and the vegetables lack charisma, think outside of the box and break the rules. You might just surprise yourself as well as cheer up the household. Bonus.
Roast Carrot, Onion and Pasta Soup with Wild Herb and Almond Pesto
Feeds 2 adults and 1 child
5 carrots (sad or happy, it doesn’t seem to matter), peeled and sliced
2 onions, peeled and sliced
3 cloves of garlic, skinned and left whole
1 potato, peeled and cubed
500ml vegetable stock, preferably fresh
Salt and Pepper
A couple of handfuls of cooked pasta
For the pesto
A handful of fresh herbs, parsley, chives, basil, mint or chervil
1 clove of garlic
A handful of skinned almonds
Extra virgin olive oil
25g Parmesan cheese, grated
1 – In a large pan, heat the oil then add the carrots, onions and garlic. Pan fry until they take on some colour, this will bring out the flavour.
2 – Add the potato and stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the potato and carrot are soft.
3 – Using a hand blender, pulse the soup to thicken but do not purée completely, keep some texture in there. Taste for seasoning, add the pasta and bring to the simmer again to heat up the pasta.
4 – In a pestle and mortar, pound the dry pesto ingredients then stir in the olive oil until you have a thick green slurry. Stir in the grated Parmesan cheese then a good grind of black pepper.
5 – Serve the soup with a good tablespoon or two of pesto on the top.