I'm a soup girl. To me, there's something magical about a bowl of hot soup on a chilly, autumn or winter day ..............
.............. oh, and if there are raindrops pattering on the roof or or snowflakes softly falling, it's even better. On days like this, somehow soup makes me feel all homey, warm and cozy. Do you know what I mean? ............. I get inspired to hang-out inside all day wearing my favorite soft sweatshirt and stretchy pants. I finish up projects around the house, clean up the schweinschtal, organize drawers, cabinets and cupboards and ........... make more soup! Although I enjoy full course dinners with all the fancy fixings, I'm just as happy with a bowl of soup, some crusty, warm bread and a good friend or two.
Last night it was three (friends) because in addition to my best buddy (Scott), some of my favorite people came for dinner; our son, Nick and his sweet wife, Lindsay. We've been feeling the extended effects of Hurricane Sandy here in the Carolinas, so it was perfect evening for this delightful soup. Everyone at the table loved it and my Nick and Linds were happy to leave with leftover soup for their lunches. (I have only one requirement when I send them off with lunch for the next day; that they think of me fondly with each bite ;).
You can feel good about making and serving this creamy, flavorful soup since it's super healthy; no butter or cream, just a bit of good-for-you extra virgin olive oil. There's onions, shallots, garlic, chickpeas, potatoes and tiny green peas along with a mountain of arugula (or spinach) to fill your veggie quota! The chick peas add a bunch of extra fiber and protein. Chicken stock, fresh and dried herbs and a delicious topping of Feta cheese, butter-toasted pine nuts (just a half teaspoon of butter) and a sprinkle of bacon add tons of delicious flavor!
One last thing; this is a great way to use up greens that are starting to wilt a bit. I love to buy those big boxes of fresh spinach, arugula, etc., but it seems that we can never get through the whole thing before it goes bad. Soup is a great remedy for this dilemma and spinach will work as well as arugula in this recipe.
Don't wait for a rainy day though to whip up a batch of this yummy soup. It's perfect, not only for a lovely casual dinner, but it makes a delicious and beautiful appetizer soup as well. Take a pot to a friend along with all the fixings, you will be thought of fondly with each and every bite :).Your family will love finding a thermos in their lunch bag. Go ahead .............. let the magic begin!
P.S. Our hearts and prayers go out to all those who have suffered devastation from Hurricane Sandy. We've been through this ourselves here in North Carolina and were without power for ten days back in 1997. We understand what you're dealing with. I'd so love to fix you a yummy pot of soup to warm you both physically and emotionally!
Arugula Soup with Potatoes and Peas
Ingredients for the Butter Toasted Pine Nuts:
2 tablespoons pine nuts
½ teaspoon butter
pinch of sea salt
Ingredients for the soup:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 large shallot, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence
64 ounces low sodium chicken broth
2 medium bay leaves
4 large yelow potatoes (or 6 medium), peeled and roughly chopped
1 - 15 ounce can chick peas, drained and rinsed
6 ounces tiny frozen peas
5 ounces arugula (spinach also works well)
1 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the topping/garnish:
4 slices bacon, crumbled
2 tablespoons Butter Roasted Pine Nuts
Directions for the Butter Toasted Pine Nuts:
1. Melt butter in a small sauté pan. Add pine nuts and cook, stirring constantly until golden brown. Remove from heat. Set aside.
Directions for the Soup:
1. In a large stock pot heat oil over medium high heat until hot but not smoking. Add onions and shallots and cook until softened and translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add Herbes de Provence and garlic. Cook for 1 minute longer, stirring continuously.
2. Add chicken broth, bay leaves, potatoes and chick peas. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer.
3. Remove from heat and pluck out bay leaves. Add arugula and peas. Puree soup until smooth and silky with either a stick blender (right in the stock pot) or using a regular blender, puree soup in batches, then return to pot. Taste and season, if needed with sea salt and pepper.
For the topping/garnish:
1. Serve in bowls, garnished with about a tablespoon of Feta cheese topped with butter toasted pine nuts and a sprinkle of crumbled bacon.