This week I pulled out Isa Does It for weeknight dinner inspiration. I was quite taken by the pesto pasta dish that Linda made recently but we'd just had pasta ourselves; instead I transferred my pesto enthusiasm to Moskowitz's recipe for pesto soup with gnocchi, beans and greens.
The thickness of this soup comes from blended cauliflower and basil with a touch of arrowroot, so it's not excessively rich. Then it's dotted with white beans, gnocchi and chard (or in my case, spinach), providing lots to get your teeth into. Like the book's sweet potato and red curry soup, it comes off as much a stew as a soup.
I used homemade stock so I increased the amount of salt in the recipe. While I loved the textures of this soup, I thought that the flavour was lacking a bit of depth - again that might be down to my vege-scrap stock, but I reckon I'll try stirring a bit of white miso into the simmering broth in future. Otherwise, the only thing preventing me from making this all winter long will be the unseasonal basil - I guess it will be better savoured as an autumn recipe.
Gnocchi pesto soup
(slightly adapted from a recipe in Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Isa Does It,
which also appears on PPK)
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
1L vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt (add some white miso next time?)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon arrowroot
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
250g fresh gnocchi
400g can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 small bunch spinach leaves, roughly chopped
toasted pine nuts, to garnish
Pour just enough olive oil into a large pot to cover the base; set it over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook it, stirring, for about a minute, ensuring it doesn't burn. Add the cauliflower and 3 cups of the stock. Stir in the thyme, salt and pepper (plus future miso). Place a lid on the pot and bring it to the boil, cooking for around 10 minutes until the cauliflower is tender.
Place the arrowroot in a cup and gradually pour in the remaining stock to form a smooth paste. Remove the lid from the pot and pour in the arrowroot-stock, stirring it around and cooking for 5 minutes until thickened (mine never did). Turn off the heat and stir in the basil leaves. Blend the soup until smooth, preferably with a stick blender.
Return the soup in the pot to medium heat. Add the gnocchi, replace the lid and cook for 3 minutes. Pour in the beans and spinach leaves, stirring everything together gently, until the leaves are wilted. Serve in bowls, sprinkled with pine nuts.