Summer Vegetable Soup with Heirloom Tomatoes and Arugula Hazelnut Pesto
There's just something about soup. I've written a few blog posts over the years where I've featured recipes I've concocted, and they always seem to be soups.
This soup recipe was born out of necessity. We planted a bunch of tomato plants in our new yard this season - 21 to be exact - and we are bombarded with bowlfuls of beautiful red fruit. We've got Black Krims, Ace, Brandywine, Glacier, Supice, Sweet 100s, and a handful of others. And I've got to say, they are deeeeelicious! But, we have a lot. And there are a lot more to come. Not that I'm complaining! But, I do have to figure out what to do with them. Salsa is my usual standby, but I'm afraid that the size of this bounty takes me way beyond Pico de Gallo.
Here's our beautiful tomato "jungle", as we've coined it. It used to be very pretty and proper and fully supported. Now the supports are makeshift, and the morning glory has happily wound itself up many of the branches. We fought it at first, and then gave up, as they didn't seem to be harming the plants and were making the bees quite happy. (Actually, I just did a quick bit of research and found that these morning glories might better be called bind weed. If anyone has more info on this plant, please share! I personally think they are beautiful, even if "invasive".)
And here is a small portion of our harvest. They do look beautiful against our deep teal walls (which I will unveil in my next blog post.) So, if you have a bunch of tomatoes you aren't sure what to do with, make some soup! If you don't have any, go buy some. And if you are local and ask nicely, I might also give you some.
Summer Vegetable Soup with Heirloom Tomatoes
For the soup:
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
8 cups water
4 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped (heirloom or other)
4 small yellow potatoes, diced
3-4 fresh thyme sprigs
3-4 fresh marjoram sprigs
1/2 cup fresh fennel fronds, finely chopped
1/2 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
freshly ground pepper
Heat olive oil on medium heat in soup pot. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Cook until soft, about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add white wine (if using), water, tomatoes, potatoes, thyme, and marjoram. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer on medium heat for approximately 15 minutes, then add fennel fronds and fennel. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes until potatoes and fennel are done. Fennel can be cooked al dente, if desired. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.
Arugula Hazelnut Pesto
2 garlic cloves
Juice of one lemon
3 cups arugula
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
freshly ground pepper
Note: For this recipe you can use a food processor or a hand blender with mini-processor attachment. I prefer the low-fuss of the hand blender. It works great for small batches of pestos, salsas, dips and sauces.
Put garlic, lemon, hazelnuts and approximately one cup of arugula in processor. Add approximately 2 tablespoons of oil. Process until blended thoroughly. Add another cup of arugula and enough oil to mix. Process until hazlenuts are coursely blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve soup with a spoonful of pesto and a garnish with a few fresh basil leaves.
I can't stress enough how unimportant it is to follow these exact instructions. Soups especially, are meant to be modified, in my opinion. I used the vegetables I had on hand. You could add many other vegetables, and even omit some ingredients I've used. You can use more onion or less onion. You could add green beans instead of fennel. Or summer squash instead of potatoes. And the pesto could be made with walnuts and basil. Or cilantro and pine nuts. It's really about making do with the ingredients you have and not being afraid to modify a bit. You'll never know what delicious flavors you can create unless you try.