Pea, Pesto and Arugula Soup

Plenty of readers associate the name Dahl with Roald Dahl's wildly imaginative children’s books. But today's generation will just as likely link the name to the famous author’s granddaughter: British model-turned-food-writer Sophie Dahl. In her new cookbook, Very Fond of Food, the devoted eater shares intimate musings and inspired recipes like this verdant pea, pesto and arugula soup. The versatile dish would go well with sautéed pea shoots and a poached egg, a swirl of tangy yogurt or shards of crispy prosciutto. Adapt the recipe to suit your tastes or try out the original, which is a shining example of Dahl’s minimal-fuss approach to cooking.

Makes 4 servings


1 loosely packed cup basil leaves

1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped 

2 tablespoons pine nuts

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and freshly ground black pepper



1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

2 small zucchini, finely chopped 

3½ cups chicken or vegetable broth

One 16-ounce package frozen peas

1½ loosely packed cups arugula

1. Make the pesto: In a food processor or blender, combine the basil with the garlic and pine nuts. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Add the Parmesan and pulse until just combined, adding a splash of water if the pesto is too thick. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

2. Make the soup: In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and the broth and simmer until the zucchini is tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the peas and arugula, return the soup to a boil and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 3 minutes longer.

3. Let the soup cool for 15 minutes. In the food processor, blend the soup in batches until smooth.

4. Reheat the soup in the saucepan and divide among 4 bowls. Serve immediately with a tablespoon of pesto swirled into each serving.

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