Spring Vegetable Soup With Sweet Pea Pistou

Serves 4 to 6.

Note: Sauté your leeks low and slow. They are delicate, and burn easily. You’ll be using half a bunch of asparagus in the soup; save the other half for another dish later in the week. From Robin Asbell.

For the soup:

• 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 rib celery

• 1 large leek, sliced and washed

• 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped

• 1 tbsp. fresh thyme

• 1/2 bunch asparagus

• 4 c. vegetable stock

• 1 (14 oz.) can cooked navy beans, drained

• 1/2 tsp. salt

For the pistou:

• 2 garlic cloves

• 3/4 c. fresh basil

• 1/2 c. frozen peas, defrosted

• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• 1/2 tsp. salt

• Rustic whole-wheat bread, if desired

Directions

To make soup: In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Add celery, leeks, carrot and thyme, and stir often until they start to sizzle. Then reduce the heat to medium low. Sauté until leeks are softened and lightly colored, at least 5 minutes.

Cut the tips of the asparagus off and reserve. Chop the tender part of the stems (discarding the tough bases) and add it to the pot. Add the vegetable stock and drained navy beans, and bring to a simmer. Simmer, covered, for 8 minutes, until carrots are easily pierced with a paring knife. Add asparagus tips and cook 2 minutes, just until crisp-tender. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt.

To make pistou: Mince the garlic in a food processor, then add basil and process until finely minced. Scrape down a few times and repeat as needed. Add peas and process. Scrape down and repeat, and add 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Purée until smooth. Makes 1/2 cup.

Serve each bowl with a spoonful of pistou and a hunk of hearty bread.

Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:

Calories 165 Fat 7 g Sodium 680 mg

Carbohydrates 20 g Saturated fat 1 g Total sugars 3 g

Protein 6 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 7 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 1 carb, 1 fat.