a little bit of pesto, a lot of blueberry soup

First, let me apologize for my unintended radio silence. Last Sunday I awoke with a sore throat and an ear ache that stretched across my jaw. I shrugged it off, la di da, aches and pains come and aches and pains go, but by the end of the day I had a raging fever, body aches, the whole nine yards. S. and I had to push leaving for the wedding back a day, and there were hours where I seriously thought I was going to have to cry uncle and miss it altogether. In the end I made it and although I was pretty sedated the first few days of festivities by Saturday both I and my shoes rallied for the cause and enjoyed the whole evening from start to finish.  I am still feeling a bit worse for the wear but imagine further rest will help. We leave again on Friday (remember, probably spotty posting until October) for my mom’s 60th birthday celebration so I hope to be 100% by then. Anyway, last week I had intended to leave you with two summer recipes. I neglected to, but here they are now.

A few weeks ago I found myself with a hankering for cold cherry soup, a specialty in northern Michigan often served at restaurants in the summer. Is there anything more elegant tasting than cold cherry soup? I truly don’t believe there is. Cherries, though, weren’t in season yet here in Pittsburgh but blueberries were, so I decided to once again trust Mark Bittman, because he never leads a girl wrong, and make “Sweet Blueberry Soup with Yogurt” from How to Cook Everything. It turned out wonderfully, as good if not better than a chilled cherry soup, and I ate it for breakfast everyday with some high fiber cereal sprinkled in. You can eat it that way, or as a first course or, as Bittman recommends, as a snack:

Sweet Blueberry Soup with Yogurt

1 pint blueberries, picked over and washed

2 cups water

1/2 cup sugar, plus more if needed (I didn’t need more)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more if needed

1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream (I used yogurt), plus more for garnish

1. Combine the blueberries, water, sugar and cinnamon in a medium saucepan and turn the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the blueberries fall apart, 5 to 10 minutes;

2. Cool the mixture a little, then puree in a blender, taking care not to burn yourself. Taste, and add more sugar or cinnamon if necessary. Chill, then stir in yogurt or sour cream.  Serve cold, garnished with more yogurt.

From the same farmer’s market trip, I came home with two bunches of basil with the full intent of making my own pesto, which I did and which I loved and which I will never ever buy in the store again because it is so easy and good. Here is Bittman’s recipe for basil. My sister-in-law recommends using walnuts instead of pine nuts but I love pine nuts and doubt I will change anytime soon.

Basic Pesto

2 loosely packed cups fresh basil leaves, big stems discarded, rinsed and dried

Salt to taste

1/2 to 2 cloves garlic, crushed (I used two cloves)

2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry skillet

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or more (I didn’t need more)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan or other hard cheese

1. Combine the basil, salt, garlic, nuts and about 1/2 the oil in a food processor or blender.

2. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container occasionally, and adding the rest of the oil gradually. Add additional oil if you prefer a thinner mixture. Store in the fridge for a week or two.

Once I have more space I hope to take what I’m learning about food and eating locally a step further and spend a few Saturdays canning and freezing, but right now I am simply trying to remain focused on this year’s goal, which is to eat as locally, seasonally and organically as possible. Now I’m off to catch up with my blog reading – happy Monday, all!

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6 Responses to a little bit of pesto, a lot of blueberry soup

  1. Litlove says:

    Poor you! I loathe having to go to big family gatherings unwell, because I figure I need all my strength for them. So glad you are feeling a bit better now. Take good care of yourself.

  2. debra says:

    Thank you for the recipes! They sound delicious. I have about a pound of blueberries in the kitchen right now — I think I sense a soup coming on. 🙂

  3. Courtney says:

    Litlove – it does feel as though I need all of my strength for family gatherings…perhaps that is why I am still tired over a week later?
    Debra – did you make the soup? It is just so, so good!

  4. Stefanie says:

    Oh, what yummy recipes! Sorry to hear you’ve been under the weather. Hope you are feeling well soon!

  5. Emily Barton says:

    Hope you’re feeling better! (Oh, and just in case you haven’t been feeling up to visiting other blogs and haven’t gotten around to reading comments on mine: Sonny Landreth was AWESOME!). Meanwhile, you are right: Mark Bittman never, ever leads a girl wrong. If I weren’t married, I’d marry him. I love to make my own pesto. If you’re one of those “love-cilantro” types (I’ve discovered, through trial and error, that when it comes to cilantro, people either love it or hate it), you can make a delicious cilantro pesto by substituting it for the basil.

  6. Cam says:

    I’ve never heard of cold cherry soup, or blueberry soup, but Bittman is great, so I would make this recipe in a heartbeat.

    Hope your feeling 100% soon.

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