Mr LBG has given up bread for Lent. I considered joining him but couldn't quite bring myself to do so, bread-a-holic that I am. Breakfast for me is always bread-based and I must admit that lunch also tends to feature something from the bakery aisle. Mr LBG is perhaps marginally less wedded to bread but his weekday lunches do generally feature sandwiches and weekend lunches tend to be lazy soup/cheese/cold meat/lovely loaf of bread type of affairs. The upshot of his bread-less Lent so far is a very pleasing loss of weight (and guilt on my part as I tuck into toast at breakfast time).
In an effort to support him, I decided that I would give up eating sandwiches at lunch time. Not quite the same, I admit, but still a challenge as this is most often what I reach for. I love the speed and ease of a sandwich and the satisfaction that it delivers. I have been trying to find enjoyable yet equally satisfying alternatives and have been experimenting with some new soup flavours. As Mr LBG and I are both weight watching, I find that a bowl of good-for-you soup is ideal for taking the edge of lunchtime hunger whilst pondering what else to eat (I've never been a bowl-of-soup only kind of girl).
I am a huge fan of peas and a pea-based soup is always a winner for me, especially as I always have peas in the freezer. Many pea soup recipes include mint which is the only herb that I really can't abide and, as such, I am always on the look-out for other flavours to accompany my favoured peas. Whilst flicking through one of my many Weight Watchers cookbooks (surprisingly good, on the whole, if you pick and choose carefully), I was drawn to a recipe for a pea, asparagus and pesto soup.
Admittedly, asparagus is not yet in season but we are getting ever closer and the warmer weather has got me in the mood for a taste of Spring. I managed to get some fairly tasty stems (albeit from Peru) and was delighted with the resulting soup. A gorgeous colour and delicious flavour. I made a few tweaks to the original recipe and have made it twice. It is good without the pesto if you don't want to open a pot just to top your soup but it does add a nice touch and an extra burst of flavour. This was a lovely lunchtime soup but would make an elegant starter in asparagus season too.
I am entering this soup into the 'No Croutons Required' blogging challenge which is hosted this month by Lisa at Lisa's Kitchen.
Pea, asparagus and pesto soup
Adapted from Weight Watchers 'Freezer Friendly Meals'
1 tsp olive oil (or spray oil if wishing to cut fat as much as possible)
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, finely sliced
2 tbsp plain flour
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
300g frozen peas
6-8 tsp pesto
1. Heat oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and leek and cover. Cook gently for 10 minutes until softened, lifting the lid and stirring occasionally.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the asparagus. Snap the woody ends off (the asparagus will have a natural break point) and chop into 1 cm pieces. Keep the tips whole so that you can keep a few for decoration!
3. Add the flour to the onion and leek and cook for 30 seconds, stirring. Pour the stock in a little at a time, stirring well between each addition. Bring to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes.
4. Add the asparagus and peas and simmer for around 3 minutes, depending on the thickness of asparagus (it should be just cooked). Remove a few tips of asparagus for garnishing the soup, if you like.
5. Season the soup well with plenty of pepper and salt to taste. Whizz until smooth with a stick blender or use a liquidizer. Serve the soup with a teaspoon of pesto swirled into each bowl. Garnish with asparagus tips and plenty of black pepper.
If following the weight watchers diet, allow 2 propoints per serving (if serving 8).