Recipe: Pea, Pesto, and Arugula Soup


Need a dish for when guests pop by? With the magic of a blender, this easy soup from Sophie Dahl’s Very Fond of Food cookbook can be served hot or cold.

This is quite a useful thing to have in the back of your head if people happen to show up uninvited, although I only ever seem to have eggs in the house when that happens to me, and I have to pretend that, yes, I really did mean to make a frittata for dinner. The soup is dead quick, yet delicious, and hopefully the uninvited will provide their own dessert, or at least have brought some chocolate.


For the pesto:

A large handful of fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
A few tablespoons of pine nuts
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup/25 g grated
Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 small zucchini, chopped
3 1/2 cups/875ml chicken or vegetable stock
1 package (1 pound/450 g) frozen peas
A large handful of arugula

Place all of the pesto ingredients in a blender or food processor and whiz up until you have a green, bubbly sauce, adding a splash of water if the pesto is a little thick. Taste, season, and adjust anything that needs adjusting.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and soften the onion. Add the zucchini, then pour in the stock and simmer on low for 8 to 10 minutes. Add the peas and arugula, bring back to a boil, and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Let the soup cool for 15 minutes or so and then, in careful batches, mix in a blender until you have a velvety purée. Reheat in the saucepan or serve cold, as it works either way. You can either run 4 tablespoons of pesto through the soup when you’re serving or reheating, if you are. Or, if serving cold, add it to the blender when you are puréeing the batches.

Very Fond of Food cookbook coverExcerpted from Very Fond of Food by Sophie Dahl. Copyright © 2012 by Sophie Dahl. Photographs Copyright © 2012 by Jan Baldwin. Excerpted by permission of Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.