Spring Leek and Pea Soup with Basil-Shallot Pesto
For the vegetable stock:
Makes 2 quarts
2 bottles (750 ml each) Hallstein water
2 yellow onions – unpeeled and quartered (if the onions have any dirt on the skin then peel it)
4 carrots – peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery – washed and roughly chopped
2 leeks – carefully cleaned, ends trimmed and chopped
1 small bunch chopped fresh parsley
Large pinch coarse sea salt
1/ 4 teaspoon black pepper
Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan placed over medium-high heat. Bring the stock to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook, uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain carefully through a fine sieve into a large clean container.
For the Soup:
2 large leeks — cleaned and chopped (yield 2 ½ cups)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ lbs shelled English peas
5 cups vegetable stock (see above)
Pour the olive oil into a large saucepan placed over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook until very tender, stirring frequently. This will take 8-10 minutes. Be patient and resist the temptation to turn up the heat.
Add the peas and cook for 2 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a strong simmer. Season with 2 large pinches salt and 8-10 grinds black pepper.
Puree the soup in a blender or use an emersion blender to make the soup as smooth as possible.
Serve hot with a large spoonful of pesto (recipe follows) added to each bowl.
For the pesto:
2 cups packed basil leaves — roughly chopped
Large pinch of salt
8-10 grinds black pepper
1 shallot — peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons pine nuts
½ cup olive oil
Juice of 1 large lemon
Place all of the ingredients except the olive oil and lemon juice into a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Run until you have a thick paste. With the motor running gradually add the olive oil and lemon juice. The pesto can be made ahead of time and stored, refrigerated for up to 3 days. If keeping for more than 24 hours pour a little olive oil over the surface of the pesto to prevent discoloration.