About 2 weeks ago Gary got the gardening bug and has since been pulling, trimming, cleaning, hauling and manicuring everything in the front yard and back to get ready for spring planting. We have this grand idea to put in a real garden and actually grow our own veggies and herbs. We have been somewhat successful the past few years with the herbs, the veggies not so much…this year may be the year though.
We do have one thing that stays consistent through good times and bad, from pouring down rain in the spring to drought like temperatures in the heart of the summer, it is our mint. Mint is a crazy herb. We planted three small pots in a planter about 3 summers ago beside some basil and chive plants. It completely took over that summer, and now comes back every year just as the temperatures start to change from winter to spring.
The tenacity of our mint has inspired me to create. Last summer I made a mint and cilantro pesto with walnuts, which I served with a paprika spiced shrimp. It was not only one of the easiest combinations, but also one of the tastiest, so I recreated a version of that pesto the other night to top a summer veggie soup.
Summer Squash Soup with Mint and Cilantro Pistou
For the Soup
1 large white onion – chopped
2 garlic cloves – minced
2 large carrots – peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 rib celery – chopped
1 red pepper – chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 zucchini squash – chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 yellow squash – chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 Chayote squash – chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 Poblano pepper – minced well
6 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
Juice and zest of 1 large lime
2 tablespoons fresh parsley – chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil – chopped
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro – chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
For the pistou –
1/2 cup fresh mint
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons toasted pinenuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese
In a large soup pot or Dutch oven heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat and add the onions, celery, carrots, poblano and red pepper. After about 2 minutes add the garlic and all of the squash and season generously with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables soften. Add the stock and bring to a boil, then reduce to a medium high simmer and add the fresh herbs, citrus and vinegar. Simmer for 10 minutes. Working in batches puree until almost smooth, but keep a bit of texture. Then pour back in the pot and simmer until ready to serve. To make the pistou, simply blend all the ingredients together. If it is too thick add a bit of extra water to thin it out. To serve, spoon the soup into a bowl and top with 2 teaspoons of the pistou.