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Most people I know put away their soup pots when summer rolls around. And while I understand the inclination (who wants to heat up their kitchen with a long-simmered thing when it’s 90 degrees F?), I am of the belief that soup is a four-season food.
In my mind, there’s no better way to make quick, easy work of all that garden and farmers’ market produce than with a simple soup. All spring I’ve been making pureed soups with peas, asparagus and sorrel, and I’m happily anticipating the coming glut of tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant.
Those three make a blissful soup when roasted, pureed with a little stock and seasoned with garlic, basil and grated Parmesan cheese. They can also be grilled, if you insist upon keeping the heat out of your kitchen.
I always take note when I spot a good soup for the spring and summer months (I shop for recipes the way other women hunt for shoes). Thanks to this habit of mine, when a giant head of escarole appeared in my first CSA share this weekend (along with parsley, tarragon and spring onions), I knew just where to turn: Rachael Ray’s Peas and Potato Soup With Tarragon Pesto.
It’s a light soup, but one that feels sustaining nonetheless. It starts with a few strips of bacon (though they’re entirely optional), is made filling with diced potatoes and is served up with a dollop of homemade pesto. If you omit the bacon, it’s a nice meal to serve to vegetarian friends. I was just pleased it tasted good and made such quick work of the escarole. It’s just the thing for these warm Weekenders.
Before you start cooking, read these tips:
— Though the escarole will eventually wilt considerably, make sure to start this soup in a pot that can hold at least 6 quarts so you can fit it all in. Besides, it’s always better to have extra space rather than not enough.
— The recipe calls for russet potatoes, but I think next time I’ll make it with waxier spuds. I found that the potato pieces crumbled a little too much for my liking.
— If you’re the type that needs some additional protein in your meal, use a can of white beans or some shredded chicken for a tasty addition.
Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her first cookbook, Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round, is now available.