Spring vegetable quinoa soup with lemon basil pesto

It's Earth Day week, and I had this idea of concocting some kind of richly earthy sort of stew I hadn't made before. Just thinking of it, I couldn't quell the word umami from resonating in my head with deep, ringing tones. Something about umami; if Yoda was a taste, umami would he be. Featured in this stew, there would have to be brown lentils, mushrooms, burdock root...that last one mainly because I only just discovered its existence last fall when I tested out a recipe that included it for Yoga Journal, and it seems to epitomize earthiness with a sort of mysticism attached. So, there was an ingredients list. Then, not even halfway through the week I decided to chuck it, for now. 

Actually, so fat I don't like burdock root. This may well change, easily, depending on what I learn about amazing benefits like blood purification and lymphatic system strengthening that I can't possibly get anywhere else.  But for now, I'm just not a huge fan of the sinewy woodiness, or the fact that the earthiness is really actual earth. And the brown, knobby lumpiness of my ingredients seemed more suitable for a witch's bubbling cauldron than my envisioned rustic family dinner honoring Earth Day.

Instead we're relishing  something light and bright and fresh that sings spring that I originally made for Ancient Harvest. You can vary the vegetables, the amounts, the herbs. You can load up the veggies and still savor a light yet satisfying meal. I love the way the pesto makes the flavors pop.

I may have mentioned before, lately I've been driving myself a little more batty than usual in my personal quest to expand knowledge. Instead of really challenging myself and poring over, say, financial journals or exploring other areas outside of my comfort zone, I've been diving headlong into more of what am already interested in, was already reading/watching/listening to. Foremost, that's food and nutrition. Lately, lagging just a hair behind, toxins in our environment. It's not the healthiest thing, going further and further into the abyss that is all the ugly, greedy, and despicable in the world and repeatedly reinforcing how little we can do about it. 

But at least there is always a little we can do. And if there is anything worth taking little, or any size, steps for, it's our planet. We only have one. 

Different people need different diets, and few things are as off-putting as people assuming they're due some kind of applause for theirs. But no one argues with the power of produce, and the significant impact such a delicious choice can make on personal health and the health of the whole planet. This week, of all weeks, it feels especially good to love seasonal vegetables. Happy Earth Day!

Spring quinoa vegetable soup with lemon basil pesto

  • 1 cup quinoa, any variety
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 leeks halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (white and light green portions)
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 8 asparagus spears, trimmed and cut diagonally in approximately 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups kale leaves, ribs removed and chopped
  • 1 cup cooked navy or white cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn
  • 1 cup torn basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add leek and carrots sweat 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add vegetable broth and water and bring to a low boil. Add asparagus, peas, kale, beans and corn. Cook 5-7 minutes, until asparagus is tender.