Antje’s Red Pepper and Parsnip Soup with Pesto
Our German friend Antje Kompa works in the magazine publishing business in London, but in her spare time she is a much-in-demand caterer and an extraordinary vegetarian cook. This is an excellent soup she served the last time we were fortunate enough to be her guests for dinner:
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons dry sherry
2 large red peppers, de-seeded and chopped
About 1 pound of parsnips, peeled and grated
1 quart + 1 pint of vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups of fresh basil leaves, tamped down
3 cloves of garlic
½ cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/3 cup of pine nuts (or walnuts)
½ cup of Extra Virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan, then stir in the onions and the sherry. Cook over medium-low heat for ten minutes or until the onions are softened.
Stir in the red peppers and parsnips and cook for a further ten minutes.
Add the stock and simmer, covered, for twenty minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Let the soup cool slightly, then puree in a blender until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
In a mortar and pestle, or in a food processor, grind basil, garlic, pine nuts, and cheese. Slowly add olive oil while grinding until a thick paste has formed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve the soup hot with a couple of teaspoons of the presto swirled into each serving.