Spinach & pea soup with mint-pistachio pesto

 

I just returned from a wonderful few days spent in sunny Sicily, an island full of history, gorgeous views of the bluest Mediterranean sea, some of the warmest people I’ve ever met and absolutely delicious food. Olive oil, sunny vegetables, lemons, almonds and pistachios are staple ingredients of their cuisine as they all grow locally on the island. The orchards of lemon and orange trees are so beautiful, extending for miles on the landscapes overlooking the sea. The towns are very picturesque, usually perched on hill tops or cliffs with spectacular views. Vivid colors are present everywhere, from the bright yellow of lemons to the fuchsia of bougainvilleas, the green of the lush vegetation and the blue of the Mediterranean sea and of the sky. It’s a paradise for photography enthusiasts!

The locals are so proud of their “land”. They call it la mia terra – my land. They say that they’re Sicilian, not Italian. Where ever they go, their land calls them back and they always return home. I really enjoyed chatting with them and learning about their culture, habits and complete and utter admiration for their island.

Here are a few pictures from beautiful Sicilia 🙂

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I definitely recommend visiting Sicily but attention, there is one danger – you’ll eat too much! From pasta to pizza to gelato, paste di mandorla and cannoli siciliani… it is impossible to resist! So I needed to get back to my usual healthy routine and I desperately needed some green food to detox from all the carbs I ate :-). I brought back some Sicilian pistachios and as the weather in Paris has not really been very friendly, I put together a green spring soup to get my body back on track – spinach and peas for sweetness with a dollop of mint-pistachio pesto. It only takes 20 minutes to make, so I hope you enjoy it!

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For the soup (serves 6-8 people)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium leeks
250g spinach, washed
500g sweet peas (I used frozen peas)
about 1,5 liters water
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a bigger pot (I always use the Le Creuset 24 cm pot for making soups, it’s my favorite) and add the chopped leaks. Stir for a few minutes then add just enough water to cover them and cook for about 5 minutes for the leeks to soften. Add the spinach and the rest of the water to cover the spinach well. Cook for another 3-4 minutes, then add the peas. Cover the pot and cook for another 2-3 minutes, just enough for the water to start boiling. Remove the pot from the stove and blend it until completely smooth with a hand mixer. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For the mint-pistachio pesto
about 100g mint leaves
60g pistachio, toasted
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3-4 tablespoons olive oil

In a blender, blend together the mint leaves, toasted pistachios, garlic cloves and olive oil. I left the pesto slightly chunky and not completely blended to give the soup a bit of extra consistency when mixed in. Add a dollop of pesto into each soup bowl or simply mix the entire quantity of pesto into the entire quantity of the soup in the pot. I prefer to add a dollop each time and store the pesto in the refrigerator for other uses as well.

This soup has the most beautiful bright green color and was such a pleasure to photograpgh!

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