Oh, jury duty.
That time honored institution wherein you might go to jail based on the fact-finding capabilities of twelve people who couldn’t think fast enough to get out of jury duty.
Our nation, she is great. I speak to you today proudly as Juror #4.
Is it wrong that instead of making dinner tonight, I almost made muffins for Jurors 1-3 and 5-14? I mean, I’m not trying to suck up to the other jurors or anything, I just have this feeding-people thing. Plus, no one likes being on jury duty. Why not perk up the morning with muffins?
And then I almost made them brownies. And finally I got over myself and just made some damn dinner. You can get your own muffins, other jurors.
Said dinner being a summer squash and white bean soup with classic basil pesto. Basil is running rampant in my herb garden, and I keep having dreams about the summer squash soup we had as an amuse bouche on Friday night at Aureole.
Unfortunately, this soup bears very little resemblance to that soup, which was preternaturally rich and light at the same time, didn’t include beans and was served with macadamia nuts and fennel oil. Fortunately, this soup was still quite good.
Shall I go on? Unfortunately, I seem to be a bit sick to my stomach tonight, so I couldn’t actually eat the soup other than a perfunctory taste so I could accurately describe it. Fortunately, Brian is not similarly felled, and declared that the soup, “taste[d] like a garden, but not in a bad way; not like eating dirt.” Huzzah! This soup: better than dirt!
And probably better for you, especially if the dirt we’re comparing it to comes from Jersey City. I mean, I love Jersey City, but sometimes I have to wonder why, exactly, my garden is so fecund. Then again, maybe ignorance is bliss when your apartment is potentially a SuperFund site.
The soup itself, like last week’s corn soup, is pretty simple and straightforward. Saute onions and celery, add summer squash, add beans, add stock, simmer until everything’s tender, puree with a hint of cream, strain, enjoy. There, there’s a whole post in 23 words for you.
I set it aside to cool – yes, I made yet another chilled/room temperature soup – while I threw the pesto together. Next Tuesday I vow that I will produce a dinner that requires chewing.
The pesto was as classics as it gets – garlic, cheese, pine nuts, basil and olive oil. Whiz in the FoPro and call it a day.
The soup: gentle paired with vivacious. The soup itself was pleasantly creamy from the beans, but the addition of summer squash kept it from being a heavy bean puree and added a bit of vegetal sweetness. The pesto is bright and brash. Mixed together, they’re terrific partners. A little drizzle of olive oil added lushness, and some whole pignoli lent texture and picked up the nutty undertones in the squash.
Luckily, there are leftovers, so I won’t be left totally in the cold. Maybe next time I’ll make a bigger batch and lunchtime in the jury room will be on me.
White Bean and Summer Squash Soup with Pesto
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion
1 rib celery
1 medium yellow squash
1/2 can white beans of your choice
2 c. stock (chicken or veg, I used chicken)
3 sprigs fresh thyme
6 tbsp. heavy cream
4 tbsp. pesto
Heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Roughly chop the onion and celery; add them to the hot oil and cook gently, without browning, until they begin to soften, 5-7 minutes.
Roughly chop the squash and add it to the pan, cooking for 3-4 minutes.
Add the beans, stock and thyme to the pan. Bring to a simmer, and simmer until the squash is completely tender (will depend on the size of your squash chunks; test for doneness by poking at ‘em with a fork.)
Puree the soup in a blender in 3 batches, adding 2 tablespoons of heavy cream to each batch. Pour the puree through a mesh strainer, and check for seasoning. Mine needed a little extra salt at the end.
Serve with a dollop of pesto, a drizzle of olive oil and some pignoli. This would be especially good paired up with some crostini with goat cheese.