summer soup and other contradictions

I’ve never been much of a soup girl. I can find a role for potato soup as sick food or tomato soup as a condiment for grilled cheese, but soup is no star of my culinary show. Leave it to me, then, to get a craving for a food that I am categorically indifferent towards, and during the least soup-appropriate month of the year.

If there’s such thing as a seasonal hot soup for August, though, this is it. It manages to be (a) fresh (b) hearty and (c) a soup I actually like, which is a totally novel combination, as far as I know. I had to resist the urge to add garlic or spices or protein of some sort to this recipe, but in the end I was glad that I left it alone.  The simplicity is the charm, in this case, and the pistou lends enough interest to keep you from being bored.

I recommend this recipe highly for all you butternut squash soup lovers out there! There’s just enough of the nutty, butter, onion and squash flavor without the autumn heaviness that winter squash would bring to the dish.

If you’re still holding on to the end of summer too tightly to even consider dusting off the soup pot, the pistou is worth making on its own. The leftovers were perfect on top of scrambled eggs the next day for breakfast.

Summer squash soup with mint-parsley pistou

For the soup
1/2 stick (4 T) butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 lb yellow summer squash, halved and thinly sliced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 medium sized potato, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock

For the pistou
3/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 c chopped green onions
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus black pepper, to taste.

Melt the butter in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion and the salt and cook until soft and starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Add squash, stock, carrots, and potatoes, and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, then simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Puree with an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender or food processor.

While the vegetables simmer, make the pistou. Pulse mint, parsley, and green onion in a food processor or chopper until finely chopped. Add oil a little at a time, then water and salt, blending until incorporated.

Serve each bowl with a tablespoon of pistou and a piece of crusty bread or toast.

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