Herby vegetable soup

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This soup is one of the easiest I have ever made, and it also only takes about 20 minutes to prepare and cook. It tastes fresh and clean, and leaves a warm glow inside, the way a good soup should. The most humble vegetables – carrots, leeks and zucchini – when combined with good quality stock and lots of fresh herbs straight from the garden, become something quite special. This is a super soup for this time of year, after a morning in the garden, or a walk in the crisp, autumn sunshine. It would also work really well in the springtime when the fresh, new vegetables are just becoming available. You could add a few asparagus spears for a spring-like flavour or maybe some tiny new broad beans. At our place we like this soup served with fresh, crusty bread and a generous spoonful of pesto on the top to stir through.

Serves 4

1 leek, finely sliced
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced zucchini
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/3 cup risoni
1 L good quality chicken or vegetable stock
3 tablespoons fresh herbs – dill is a must, but any combination of basil, chives, a little mint, thyme that you have to hand will work well
sea salt and freashly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons of pesto and good crusty bread, to serve

In a large saucepan, over low heat, cook the leeks and garlic in the olive oil until they have softened  a little. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Add the carrot, zucchini and risoni and simmer for about 8 minutes. Add the peas and cook for a couple more minutes, until the risoni is cooked. Take off the heat, stir in the fresh herbs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately in warm bowls with a spoonful of pesto on top of the soup and crusty bread on the side.

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