We got back late last night from our European summer adventure.
The two things I’ve been dreaming about for the last couple weeks of the trip have been going for a run and a simple summer vegetable soup. I’m not sure exactly who I have become.
Normally I’m not such a health freak but after six weeks of gluttony my body was in desperate need of a reboot. This morning I hit the pavement vowing never to go on such an extended excursion without my running shoes again and then made a big pot of soup for dinner.
There’s something so intensely satisfying about potatoes and carrots and beans bubbling away in a tomatoey broth. It is the kind of simple food to regroup to, to find your balance, and most importantly, fill your belly.
As you can imagine, I’m a bit exhausted from our trip, but I wanted to share this recipe with you as I have a feeling I’m not alone in the need for simple comforts, getting back on track, or maybe just a recipe to use up your garden’s summer bounty.
The cilantro pesto croutons are obviously optional but I love their crunchy edges and soft middles, plus any extra pesto gets mixed into the soup giving it a happy little herby boost.
- Another veggie soup you might be interested in: Spring Sopita de Letras
Simple Summer Vegetable Soup with Cilantro Pesto Croutons
For the Soup:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 leeks, halved, washed well, and sliced
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 3 small yellow potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 1 cup cubed)
- 1 cup dried large white beans, rinsed (I used lima beans)
- 4 cups water
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup chopped green beans
- 1 small zucchini, chopped
For the Croutons:
- 1 small bunch cilantro, thick stems removed (about 2 packed cups of leaves and tender stems)
- 1 packed cup baby spinach leaves
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 baguette
To make the soup:
- Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add leeks and onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes.
- Add carrots and celery and season again with salt and pepper. Cook about 5 minutes more then add garlic and cook another minute.
- Add tomatoes, potatoes, beans, water, and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until beans are tender, about 1-1 1/2 hours.
- Add green beans and zucchini and continue cooking until tender, about 10 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed. I added about 1 teaspoon more.
For the Croutons:
- Heat oven to 425°F.
- Combine cilantro, spinach, garlic, salt, and pumpkin seeds in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Add oil and blend until smooth.
- Slice baguette into 1/2-inch thick slices. Spread about 1/2-1 teaspoon of pesto on one side of each slice then place pesto-side-up on a baking sheet. Bake until outer edges are crisp about 10 minutes.
- Spoon any remaining pesto into the soup pot and stir to combine. Ladel soup into bowls and top with one or two croutons.
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