It’s finally soup weather in California, woohoo! As soon as the temperature takes a dip you’ll surely find me in the kitchen over a dutch oven stirring away. Soup is the perfect food. It’s light yet comforting, filling and packed with vegetables and nutrients. Between work and our curious, newly-crawling, 8 month old we are bu-sy. Cooking large quantities of simple, flavorful meals has been key to survival lately. Knowing I’ll come home to a delicious, home-cooked meal after a 10 hour day takes a huge weight off my shoulders.
The base for any good soup starts with sauteing aromatics and vegetables in butter or oil. In this case I used mirepoix-a French term for the “holy trinity” of vegetable combinations- carrot, celery, and onion. I also used fennel since I love the unique flavor it provides, and of course, garlic. Next, I sauteed the zucchini and butternut squash with the herbs in a splash more olive oil for a second layer of flavor, and since the squashes are not as sturdy as the other veg and I didn’t want them to end up mushy after simmering.
This recipe includes a pesto sauce made with oregano, parsley and tarragon that really adds a punch of flavor to the soup. I added a handful of organic “power greens” which makes the pesto packed with vitamins. If you’re not familiar with power greens, it’s a salad greens mix I love and always have on hand. The recipe makes a big enough batch that you’ll have some leftover. I love to have pesto on hand since it’s a simple way to transform that whatever’s left in the fridge- kind of meal into something special in a jif!
Ingredients for soup
- 1 cup diced fennel
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 2 cups cubed butternut squash
- 2 cups diced zucchini
- 2 cups crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups cooked farro
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tbsp evoo, divided
- 1 tsp minced fresh flat leaf parlsey
- 1 tsp minced tarragon
- 1 tsp minced fresh oregano
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt + 1/4 tsp
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar
- 1 parmesan rind, plus 1 tbsp more for finishing each bowl
Ingredients for pesto
- 1/2 cup tarragon
- 1/2 cup evoo
- 1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup fresh oregano
- 1 handful (about a cup) of “power greens”
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup parmesan chunks
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 clove garlic
- In a large stockpot, heat 2 tbsp evoo over medium-high heat and add fennel, celery, onion, carrot and 1/2 tsp salt and stir. Sautée for about 5 minutes.
- Add the butternut squash, zucchini, garlic, parsley, tarragon, oregano and remaining 2 tbsp of evoo and 1/4 tsp salt and stir, sautéing for another 2 minutes.
- Deglaze the pan with the white wine and cook for about a minute to let the alcohol cook off.
- Add chicken broth, crushed tomatoes and parmesan rind, stir to combine.
- Bring soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook for about 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook 1 cup of farro according to the directions on the package. Most brands I’ve used will cook in about 25-30 minutes which is perfect timing for the soup to finish simmering.
- Once the farro is cooked, strain off the excess water and add it to the soup, stir to combine.
- Add 1 tbsp of good quality balsamic vinegar to add pop of bright flavor, stir to combine.
To make the pesto:
- Place tarragon, parsley, oregano, pine nuts, parmesan, salt and garlic in a food processor and let it run for about a minute to mince and combine the ingredients.
- With the food processor running, slowly drizzle the lemon juice and olive oil through the opening in the top of the food processor until the pesto is creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes.
*The soup tastes even better the next day after all the flavors have had the chance to marry. Serve with a large dollop of pesto and grated parmesan cheese. Bon Apetit!