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Winter Vegetable Soup with Basil-Mint Pesto

Winter Vegetable Soup with Basil-Mint Pesto is full of flavor and features nutritional powerhouses like sweet potatoes and kale. The pesto adds a great ‘pop’ of flavor but if you don’t have the time or ingredients to make it, the recipe can be modified: first, add 2 cloves of minced garlic to the pot with the leeks and celery. Then, add 1-1/2 teaspoons of dried basil and 1 teaspoon of dried parsley to the simmering soup. OR, you can make the pesto ahead of time and refrigerate (or freeze) the pesto for future use. YUM!!

Winter Vegetable Soup with Basil-Mint Pesto (serves 6-8)

1/4 cup olive oil

2 leeks, white and green parts, sliced (Clean well…First, I cut off both ends and cut vertically. Then I rinse each section thoroughly to remove the sandy grit it’s grown in)

2 celery stalks, sliced

1-15 ounce canned petite diced tomato, undrained

1 tablespoon tomato paste

6 cups vegetable (vegan) or chicken stock

1 cup water

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (I prefer red garnets)

1/2 cup orzo pasta (omit for gluten-free)

1-15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 pound kale leaves, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper

Basil-Mint pesto (recipe below*)

Heat oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, cook leeks and celery until slightly browned, about 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add tomatoes and paste, stock, potatoes and pasta. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover until vegetables are tender, 10-20 minutes. Add beans and kale, heat thoroughly and season to taste. Serve in individual bowls with a heaping tablespoon of pesto on top. Enjoy the soup by stirring in the pesto to combine. Enjoy!!

*Basil-Mint Pesto

1-1/2 cup basil

½ cup mint

¼ cup parsley

½ cup hazelnuts or pine nuts, toasted

4 cloves garlic

½ cup parmesan cheese

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.

1/4 cup EVOO

Blend first 6 ingredients in a food processor. Occasionally scrape down sides to blend evenly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Slowly drizzle the olive oil to blend. Adjust oil amount, as needed, for proper consistency. Makes 1 cup.

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