Vegetable, almond and farro soup, with cilantro-mint pesto

IMG_2437What does one do with 5 asparagus spears, a handful of cauliflower florets, a few stray fresh spinach leaves, 2 celery stalks and precisely 1 potato and 1 leek? No not potato and leek soup!! But just throw all the veggies in a pot and transform it into a warm, comforting soup. Yes, that’s what I ended up doing one evening last week, since I had all these leftover fresh veggies lying in the refrigerator. The final result, nothing quite like a steaming cup of soup to warm the cockles of your heart, on a chilly, Fall evening! For an extra touch and texture to the soup, I added a little farro, to provide that extra bit of fiber and nutrients. Farro, is a wheat grain, belonging to an ancient lineage of grains, quite similar to barley. No worries if you can’t get a hold of it, the soup tastes as delicious without it too. I used pre-cooked farro,which is easily available at our local grocery stores here. Another texture boost, is almonds, I love almonds in all my soups. I make an almond cream, by grinding a handful of almonds and milk and adding it to the soup at the very end. It’s a great way to avoid heavy cream, if one is watching their weight. And a double-duty cilantro-mint pesto which I just drizzled on top as a garnish, gives a zing to the soup. I had made this pesto a day earlier, for my mung bean and grapefruit salad, posted in my previous blog post.
There is not much prep time needed. For instance, while the onions and celery are sautéing, chop the remaining veggies. The veggies take 10-12 minutes to sauté. So while they are cooking, complete the couple of other steps, like preparing the almond milk and pesto. Keep the momentum going! An easy to make, hearty, healthy and flavourful soup any day of the week!

Servings-2
Ingredients:
5-6 asparagus spears, choppedIMG_2416
10-12 fresh spinach leaves
2 stalks celery, chopped
5-6 cauliflower florets
2 tbsp. chopped onionsIMG_2420
1 leek, the white part only, thoroughly washed and chopped.
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 potato, peeled and chopped
4 cups water or stock
A handful of almonds, skins removed. Add the whole almonds to hot water for a minute. When cool, remove skins.
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
A pinch grated nutmeg
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil + 1 tsp. butterIMG_2412
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup pre-cooked farro.

For the pesto:
A handful of fresh mint leaves
A handful of fresh coriander leaves
1 tbsp. pine nuts
Juice of a lemon1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

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For the pesto, add all the ingredients in a small blender, and pulse or grind. The consistency is actually similar to that of a pesto. Set aside.

Rinse the food processor. Make the almond cream – add the almonds along with the milk. Grind to a fine smooth paste and set aside.

IMG_2419In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the butter and olive oil on medium high heat. Add the bay leaf and dried rosemary. Add the onions, leeks and celery. Add a little salt. Sauté for a few minutes till veggies start becoming soft and translucent. Add garlic. Add all the remaining vegetables and sauté for 8-10 minutes on medium low heat. Add the grated nutmeg. Add water. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, till veggies are soft and cooked. Let cool. Discard the bay leaf. Blendthe soup in a blender or with an immersion blender, till smooth and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Before serving the soup, heat the soup. Add the pre-cooked farro, simmer for 7-8 minutes. Remember, to add the farro at the end if it us precooked. If added earlier, it thickens the soup too much. Add the almond cream. Serve the hot soup in bowls and drizzle a bit of the cilantro-mint pesto.IMG_2429IMG_2430IMG_2431IMG_2436

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