Soup Du Jour

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Growing up in India, monsoons were a big deal. For adults it meant dealing with flooded streets, electricity outages, and mosquitoes.  For kids however the city turned into an instant amusement park. I cringe now, but back then I had no problem running waist deep in that dirty water all day long.

Another thing I remember about monsoons are my mom’s bhajiyas. Without fail as soon as the rain hit the ground, my mom would magically produce a plate piled high with these steamy vegetable fritters which we ate with thinly sliced red onions and fried green chilies. Losing the monsoon season took a little getting used to when I moved here.The smell of rain soaked earth together with fried bhajiyas is something I miss often.

Like today. It’s been raining all day. And while I didn’t make a plate full of bhajiyas, I did the next best thing and made some soup. I used one of my recipe books as a guide and then improvised based on what I had on hand. Adding the pesto and parmesan cheese at the end made it one of the best soups I’ve made at home. Not quite as good as those bhajiyas but just as perfect for a rainy day.

Vegetable Soup with Pesto

4 cups of water
Bouquet garni of 1 fresh parsley sprig, 1 fresh thyme sprig, 1 bay leaf.
2 celery stalks
1 small onion (recipe called for 3 baby leaks)
4 baby carrots
150g of new potatoes
4 tbsp fava beans or peas
6oz can of cannellini beans or flageolet beans (I skipped the beans)
3 heads bok choy ( I skipeed this also)
3.5 cups arugula ( I used spinach)
Stale bread
4 tbsp pesto
Grated Parmesan cheese

1. Put the water and bouquet garni into a pan and add the celery, onion (or leeks), carrots and potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
2. Stir in the fava beans or peas and canned beans and let simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Stir in the bok choy and arugula, season with salt and pepper. Let simmer for additional 5 minutes. Add pieces of stale bread.
3. Remove the bouquet garni. Stir in up to 3 tablespoons of pesto into the soup.Ladle into bowls. Top with a little more pesto and lots of cheese.

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Chika Gujarathi is a freelance writer and a mother of three from Raleigh, NC. She writes for national and local publications about lifestyle, travel, books, and of course, motherhood! Her most current project involves illustrating and publishing a children’s Hindi book. When not adventuring with her family in the minivan, you can find her riding the streets of Raleigh on her beloved bike Linus.

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