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Who’s Minding the Mint: Sweet Pepper & Mint Pesto Soup

It’s not thyme that equals money

Sorry for the title but I always loved that screwball comedy as a kid.(Learn more about it here.)  The movie’s about the place where they print money and I’m writing about the herb.  Get it?

(Sigh.)   I don’t think Netflix is getting their money’s worth from me.

Okay, the fact is nobody minds mint.  Most of us like it.  But in a soup?  That might be a bit too screwy.

Like everybody else, my first exposure to mint, and I’m talking about spearmint here (there are lots of different varieties), was through candy—gum, chocolate-covered restaurant mints, even (ugh!) butter mints. After that I moved to the savory side of the street with the classic combination of mint and lamb (still my favorite meat).  Today?  Well, my current preference is a Thai classic called beef salad which has tons of mint and lime to make this dish sweet, sour and fabulous.

Despite my love for mint, though, it was with some trepidation that I envisioned this soup.  I’m not an expert in any Asian cuisine—Thai, Chinese, Indian.  You name it, I don’t know how to do it.  My expertise lies more in European cuisine and whatever flavors I grew up with (California = Mexican + “American”).  So that’s what I had to go on.  One day I’ll know how to cook Asian, but it will not be this day.

The idea for a bell pepper and mint soup came from a recent visit to the grocery store.  The two were in the same aisle, so I thought, why not put them together?  (Good thing I wasn’t in the cleaning aisle!)

The bigger question was how to combine them. I didn’t want to do a combination of sweet and sweet, but I wasn’t sure which of these flavors to push toward savory.  Bell peppers were the obvious choice, but on an impulse I went the other way.

Through some strange synaptic connection/misconnection, I hit upon the idea of making a mint pesto with garlic and pine nuts.  This added a little more heft to the mint and set it up as a nice counterpoint to the sweetness of the peppers.

The pesto actually turned out really well and might one day stand on its own with a flavored pasta. In this storyline, however, it became the love interest from the wrong side of the tracks to the sweet peppers’ ingénue. Good chemistry, maybe even a few sparks, but happily ever after? It’s too early to tell.

My wife really liked it, and she had more misgivings than I did about the mint & bell pepper idea. As for me, there was something about the soup that left me wondering how their relationship would develop.  Were they meant to be together?  It’s not that I don’t like happy endings, I don’t like endings period.

That’s why I’m already working on a sequel. Stay Tuned.

Sweet Pepper & Mint Pesto Soup
(serves 3-4)
6 bell peppers, cored, seeded and chopped (red, yellow, orange, purple, something colorful and sweet, not the green)
Olive oil (or cooking spray, if you like. Yes, I use PAM sometimes)
4 cups vegetable stock
Mint Pesto
2 cups, fresh mint, firmly packed
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup pine nuts
1/3-1/2 cup olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

  1. Coat peppers with oil, spread out on a baking pan and roast in a 350 degree oven until soft (15-20 minutes).
  2. Add roasted peppers to the stock, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  3. As the peppers and stock simmer, put the mint (no stems), garlic, pine nuts and seasonings into the bowl of a food processor.  Then turn the food processor on and slowly drizzle the oil into the mix so the pesto comes together as a relatively smooth paste.  Add extra oil, salt and pepper to get the flavor and texture you like.
  4. Remove the soup from the heat and puree the peppers until they have a uniform consistency.
  5. Slowly stir the pesto into the pepper base, heat through and serve.
  6. This goes well with a richly flavored salad or any flavorful meat (I served it with lamb coated with, you guessed it, mint)

Image Credit: A mathematical representation of a bad pun (well, they’re all bad, aren’t they?)

Leave your sweet thoughts about this posting in the comments section.  Savory too.  Unsavory comments may have to be censored.  Either way, I’ll be reading and responding.

2 Comments to “Who’s Minding the Mint: Sweet Pepper & Mint Pesto Soup”

  1. Dolores says:

    Phil,

    I’ve been enjoying your blog so much. This recipe is so original. Truly inspired. Never have a I heard of such a thing in my limited culinary experiences. But as an avid Food Network fan, I’m sure I haven’t seen this before. Keep up the good work! 🙂

    • pcandres says:

      Thanks for the props, Dolores. If you get any ideas from the Food Network, let me know. I don’t always achieve originality. If the soup tastes good, that’s enough for me. I appreciate the comment and, even more, your reading the blog.

      Phil

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