This lemony courgette soup packs a serious citrus punch combining with the mint pesto to create an aromatic and revitalising dish. I should begin by confessing that by the time we had harvested the yellow courgettes for this soup they were rather overgrown and looked more like marrows. As it turned out this was no bad thing as the thicker skin that develops from a bit of life experience and neglect is what allows the soup to retain some texture and stops it from being too slushy. The pesto represents my surrender to buying nutritional yeast – a rather unappealing sounding ingredient which I had been avoiding for some time. The yeast is deactivated and comes in the form of flakes or powder (I use the flakes). It gives dairy free dishes a cheesy, nutty flavour making it perfect for vegan pesto. If you are not a fan of soup or courgettes then you could just make the pesto. It takes two minutes to prepare and, spread on crackers and accompanied by a glass of wine, makes for a very happy supper or snack.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 white onions
- 1kg large courgettes, a mix of yellow and green preferably organic and not too young.
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 ½ tsp herbs de Provence
- ½ tsp mustard powder
- 750ml vegetable stock
- 1 unwaxed lemon
- Salt and pepper to season
- ¼ of a nutmeg plus more for serving
For the pesto
- 25g fresh mint, leaves picked
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 60g pine nuts
- 6 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp nutritional yeast
- ¼ tsp salt
Finely chop the onions. Using a heavy based, lidded pan heat 2 tbsp of olive oil and add the onions giving them a quick stir so they get coated in the oil. Pop the lid on the pan and, keeping the heat low, sweat the onion for around 10 mins, stirring occasionally, until translucent. While the onion is cooking you can prepare the courgettes. Give them a wash, and cut away any damaged skin. Slice each courgette in half lengthways and slice into ¼ inch pieces. When the onions are cooked, add the courgettes, bay leaf, herbs de Provence and mustard powder, give them a good stir, and balance the lid back on the pan so it is slightly ajar. The cooking time here will vary a little depending on the size of the courgettes but this should be around 20-25 minutes with the courgettes taking on a translucent appearance when they are cooked.
While the courgettes are cooking, make the pesto. Using a food processor or a pestle and mortar blend together the pine nuts, garlic, mint and 4 tsp of the olive oil. Once a coarse paste is formed add the salt and the nutritional yeast. Give another quick blend so the new ingredients are integrated but the texture of the pesto remains coarse.
Once the courgettes are cooked, add the vegetable stock and grate in the nutmeg. Keeping the pan on a low heat stir well for a minute or two before transferring the contents to the blender (or leave in the pan if using a hand blender). Puree the soup adding some hot water if the soup is too thick, and return to the pan.
Zest the lemon. Cover the zest as it dries out incredibly quickly and set aside until serving. Disposing of any pips, squeeze the juice into the hot soup. Give a quick stir and check the seasoning.
To serve, ladle the soup into the serving bowls and grate over a little nutmeg. Rest a dollop of pesto on top of the soup then scatter over the lemon zest.