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Saturday, 10 March 2012

Spring Vegetable Soup

This soup is really simple, but incredibly comforting and tasty. It lets the ingredients speak for themselves and allows their freshness to shine through. The vegetables that best work with this are delicately flavoured baby carrots, fresh peas, cherry tomatoes, leeks, i.e. all the ones you find in spring; hence the name of the dish. They are simmered in chicken stock until al dente (as they need to retain some bite) together with a small format of pasta, then dressed with a little olive oil, parmesan cheese and freshly cracked pepper. Goodness in a bowl. 

INGREDIENTS (for two people)
  • 5 baby carrots (or two larger ones), chopped in small pieces
  • Two handfuls of freshly shelled peas (or you can use frozen ones)
  • One leek, washed and finely sliced
  • 10 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 litre of chicken stock (you can use an organic stock cube to make it)
  • 100 gr of pasta (choose a small format, such as the "Piccolini" Barilla range)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
You can also use asparagus, courgettes, broad beans or whatever spring vegetables you may have available for this soup. First of all, place your cherry tomatoes in a bowl, pour some boiling water over them until they are completely covered and leave them to rest for three minutes. Drain them, and then peel them: you will find that the skin comes off really easily - this is a little trick that's great to have up your sleeve when it comes to peeling tomatoes.

Cut each cherry tomato in two and place them in a pan, together with the peas, the finely sliced leeks, the chopped carrots and the celery stick (leave the latter whole). Cover your vegetables with the chicken stock and bring to the boil. Let it simmer for 15 minutes, then add the pasta and cook it for another 5 minutes (or the time it says on the packet that it will take to cook the pasta). Fish out and discard the celery stick, then season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide the soup between two dishes, drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on top, scatter it with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper. Serve immediately.

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