I’ve made this soup three times in the past week and a half.
I know – it’s not quite soup season yet, but you probably still have bunches of summery herbs, and this recipe is such a wonderful way to use them. This one comes from Heidi Swanson’s book Near and Far, which has been a favorite in my kitchen since it came out last fall. I just love Heidi’s recipes because they’re so unique and usually very simple to put together. This one takes no longer than 15 minutes, and it packs a bright punch of flavor.
Basil, cilantro, ginger, almonds, lemon… all my favorite things. 🙂 The only slight change I made to the recipe was using lemongrass instead of mint because it’s what I happened to have on hand. This recipe is such a great base for whatever toppings you want to add – see Heidi’s suggestions in the recipe below. The first time, I added brown rice and sliced almonds, the second time a poached egg (heavenly), and this time – soba noodles, green onions, and tofu.
The book is organized into two sections: recipes that are inspired by Heidi’s home (in Northern California), and those that are inspired by her travels to places such as Morocco, India, Italy, France, and Japan. I’m so drawn to this book because we’ve traveled to many of the same places, and I just love the way she translates these cuisines so simply and beautifully. All the recipes, by the way, are vegetarian.
Next on my list is to try her Pozole recipe, how gorgeous does that look?
- 4 cups water
- 3 medium garlic cloves
- 1¼ cup firmly packed basil leaves
- 1¼ cup firmly packed cilantro leaves and stems
- ¼ cup lightly packed mint leaves
- a thick 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled & sliced
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 small serrano chiles, stemmed (I used 1)
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon runny honey (sub maple if vegan)
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- poached eggs, white beans, soba noodles, toasted almonds, shaved green onions, roasted mushrooms or other roasted vegetables
- In a saucepan, bring the water just to a simmer.
- As the water heats, combine the garlic, basil, cilantro, mint, ginger, olive oil, chiles, almonds, salt, lemon zest, and honey in a blender or food processor. Process for a couple of minutes, thinning with a couple of tablespoons of cold water and scraping down the sides along the way, until the mixture becomes as smooth as possible. Taste and adjust to your liking the paste should taste strong and spicy.
- Just before serving, add the paste to the simmering water and stir well. Dial back the heat at this point; you don't want it to return to a simmer, but you do want it very hot. Taste and adjust the seasoning - a bit more salt or a squeeze of lemon juice. Ladle into bowls with your chosen accompaniment, and enjoy on its own or topped with any of the suggested toppings.