Sunday, August 10, 2014

Potato and Parsley Soup with Herb-Caper Pesto: Storm-Worthy for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

It's been a crazy week with potential hurricanes Iselle and Julio looming over the islands. Besides stocking in supplies, making sure the 'hatches were battened down' around the house and making sure that work projects that needed to be out by Friday were emailed, there was cuing up the weekend blog posts just in case the power went out--something that seemed quite likely. Lucky for us, although Iselle lashed out at The Big Island and then at Maui--causing power outages and damages from winds and rain, she tuckered out before hitting Oahu and it certainly could have been much, much worse where she hit. Julio moved north of the islands and although they thought we might get wind and rain, so far it has been sunny and clear. Thanks to everyone who Tweeted, emailed, Facebooked, and/or texted their positive thoughts and concern. A few days of stress and a sleepless Thursday night waiting for something to happen and listening to the winds and rain are all minor and I feel very blessed to have such good friends and family who care. 

It was a good time for a hearty, warming, comforting soups. When I think of comfort soups, potato soup always comes to mind. Simple, creamy, nourishing and a bit soul-filling as well. This week I picked Nigel Slater's Parsley and Potato Soup which he had topped with sauteed garlic mushrooms. The mushrooms looked fabulous but I had a slightly different topping in mind that felt a little less fall/winter--a variation of a favorite Nigel Basil-Caper Pesto that I keep making since I tried it with pasta last month. I thought that the tangy capers and white wine vinegar combined with the herbs would go well with the simple soup. It seemed like a better topping to accent a cold potato soup too--in case the power went out. I wanted to use up a selection of herbs I had on hand--basil, tarragon, parsley and dill, so I adapted Nigel's recipe slightly--noted below.

Served with baguette (when better to carb load than during a storm?) ;-) and some Cotswold cheese (similar to a cheddar cheese and with onion and chives and recommended by the lady at the cheese counter at my local specialty foods store), it made for an easy, satisfying dinner.  

Potato and Parsley Soup with Herb-Caper Pesto
Adapted from Nigel Slater via
(Serves 4

750g (2.25 lbs) floury potatoes
2 cloves of garlic
a large rib of celery

(I added 3 cups of veggie broth)
2 bay leaves
8 stems of flat-leaf parsley

Herb-Caper Pesto to garnish (recipe below)

Peel the potatoes, dice them, then put them into a saucepan. Peel and chop the garlic, roughly chop the celery, then add them to the potatoes and pour in enough water to cover. Drop in the bay leaves. Remove the parsley leaves and set aside.

Add the stalks to the pan with half a teaspoon of salt. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a lively simmer and cook for 15 or 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft and on the verge of collapse.

Chop the parsley leaves. Pour the potatoes and their cooking water into a blender or food processor, add the parsley leaves and blitz till smooth. Take care not to over-blend as it can send the mixture gluey. I do it in short bursts. Check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper as you think fit.

Cut the mushrooms into thick slices, melt the butter in a shallow pan, add the peeled and crushed garlic, then cook them till nicely coloured and sizzling. Season. Chop the parsley leaves and stir into the mushrooms.

Warm the soup thoroughly – until piping hot – then ladle into four bowls. Top with a spoonful of the Herb-Caper Pesto below. 

Herb-Caper Pesto
Adapted from Nigel Slater's Notes From the Larder
(Makes about a cup)

Take a couple of good couple of handfuls of basil (and other herbs--I used basil, parsley, tarragon and dill) , a clove of garlic, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a couple of tablespoons of white wine vinegar, a teaspoon of capers, pureed with enough olive oil to make a thick pouring consistency. Stir some salt and pepper to taste. 

Notes/Results: Just a homey soup with great flavor and a pretty green color. I made a half batch-ish in case storage became a problem and it made three good-sized bowls. The soup is mild--I used veggie broth for a richer flavor--so the topping really sets it off and makes it more interesting. I liked the addition of the other herbs to the caper-basil pesto. I had been making it just with basil but the tarragon and dill make it a bit more complex. If you like Vichyssoise, this soup works well cold too. I would make it again and I know I will continue making the pesto. Love those capers. ;-)

This week's I Heart Cooking Clubs theme is "Moreish Meals"--Nigel Slater dishes that you want more than one serving of. Both the soup and the pesto fit that category well. You can see what the other participants wanted more of by checking out the picture links on the post.

If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on my sidebar for all of the details.  

Have a happy, healthy week!


  1. I had no idea you were bracing for two hurricanes/storms! That had to be very stressful, Deb. So glad all is well and you didn't suffer any damage. No surprise that you love the basil caper pesto so much;) I'm sure the capers really liven up pesto. Looks like a great soup to hunker down with! Potato soup is always comforting.

  2. Hi Deb,
    I'm glad to hear that all is fine over at your area. It is really scary with the hurricanes right now, and just heard over the news about Japan.
    Your soup looks so comforting and delicious, and I like it that you have served it over with pesto. With that crusty bread, wish I could enjoy a bowlful of your delicious soup!

  3. Glad to read, that all is fine. It's still too hot here to eat soups, but the summer can't last forever, than I'll give this a try. I love capers.

  4. So glad to hear you are okay!! I love how this potato soup is super comfort-full...but also full of fresh summer pesto flavor!

  5. I'm happy to hear that all is well there. Potato soup is a great comfort food and this one looks particularly good with all of those summery touches.

  6. You band I are alike in loving soup. No matter what the weather, I love soup for lunch and as a starter for dinner.

    This looks very hearty.

  7. It was a good time for soup and I am so glad all is well in the Kahakai Kitchen, Deb.

  8. So glad all is well for you. That soup and its garnish/extra bit sound so delicious! I must check out that larder cookbook, I never have!

  9. Couscous & ConsciousnessAugust 14, 2014 at 3:52 PM

    Gosh, Deb, I had no idea you had a couple of big hurricanes passing through up there. I'm so glad to hear that you survived ok and with no damage, it must nevertheless be a pretty stressful time. You were clearly very well prepared though on every front, and I had to smile that you had actually thought it through right down to the pesto. The pesto sounds amazing by the way, love the combination of herbs and especially the capers in there. I totally need to try that.


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