Nothing says Spring in the culinary world like fresh green produce, although not all of it from this recipe has been grown right in our backyards here in the Midwest. I just love to make a lot of soups when the weather is on the cusp of cold, wet and rainy and just a little bit warm during pockets of the day when the sun peeks through the clouds and then retreats, as if to say, “I’m not ready to go full time just yet”.In this quick and simple soup, I utilize what’s nice and fresh at the store like leeks, zucchini and celery.
And the freshest of greenery that comes straight from my windowsill: basil and parsley.
The herbs plus the garlic gets pounded down in a mortar and pestle to really crush up the garlic and release all of its flavor, rubbing it agains those herbs so they can all become one united flavor mixture.
They will be added at the end of the soup, much like a pistou, or pesto, trailing olive oil along with it.
First and foremost, the leeks must be cleaned. You can buy the pre-cut and washed ones, which I have done in the recent past- yet, I still brought them home and rinsed them once they’re cut. They often contain a lot of dirt and sandy debris, so you really can’t skip this step- unless the packaging specifies that it’s been done already. I’m just in the habit of it, I guess, and felt that because they were trimmed nicely that I’d already won an extra 10-15 minutes. I know it’s not rational, but it is therapeutic in some odd way…
Next, it all gets sautéed in olive oil until they veggies have softened and come down in size quite a bit. Notice that I’m not using any onions here because the leeks already sort of serve that purpose in that they are of the same family flavor profile, so need to double up on those.
Salt and pepper of course will come in just as soon as the broth is added.You all know that Saffron Road’s Artisan Roasted Chicken Broth, is my go-to choice due to their incredibly hight quality of standards when sourcing ingredients and in the way they’re made (they also have another chicken broth called Traditional Chicken Broth, Lamb Broth– the only one I’ve seen on the market shelves- and Vegetable Broth), all giving any soup that depth of flavor you can only really get with the best stocks and broths. Just remember to salt the soup after the addition of the broth because there is sodium in the broth and you’ll want to adjust yours accordingly after tasting.
Let the soup come to a boil, then quickly reduce the heat. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to combine all of the ingredients. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can allow the soup to cool a bit then use a blender instead to combine. Bring soup back to the heat and keep on a simmer. Pour about 1-2 tablespoons olive oil into the garlic-parsley paste you made in the mortar & pestle, combine it all and then add to the top of the soup in individual bowls. Serve and enjoy it!
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons basil (about 4 large leaves)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cleaned and trimmed leeks
- 2 cups chopped celery (about 4 stalks)
- 5 cups chopped zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)
- 5 cups Saffron Road Artisan Roasted Chicken Broth
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- In a mortar and pestle, combine the garlic, basil and parsley. Add one tablespoon of the olive oil to help smooth out the paste. Pound all the ingredients together until they're well combined and the garlic is completely crushed. Alternatively, chop all of the ingredients together, crushing the garlic before actually mincing or dicing it small, to help release its flavors.
- In a stock pot or large sauce pan, use the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil and gently warm it up. Add the leeks, celery and zucchini and cook until all of the ingredients have softened and browned slightly. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, covered halfway.
- Remove the pot from heat and use an immersion blender to thoroughly combine all the ingredients into a puree. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can allow the soup to cool a bit then add the ingredients to a blender instead where you should achieve the same consistency as a puree when blending.
- Bring the pot back to the flame and keep on a simmer until ready to serve. Ladle soup into bowls and add a small amount of the garlic-parsley paste to each one.
- Remember to salt the soup AFTER the addition of the broth because there is sodium in the broth and you'll want to adjust yours accordingly after tasting.