Dana Treat – Treat Yourself

Yogurt and Oregano Pesto Soup

Posted September 1, 2011

Yogurt and Oregano Pesto Soup with Oregano Flowers
Adapted from Purple Citrus & Sweet Perfume
Makes 4 smallish portions

If you are buying oregano and it doesn’t have blossoms, don’t worry, you just won’t have the pretty garnish.  I call for 7 ounces Greek yogurt here because I buy Fage brand and that is the size it comes in.  If you have a larger container, use 8 ounces.  I used their 2%.

For the oregano pesto:
24 sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves and flowers
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup pine nuts
Kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan

For the soup:
Olive oil
1 celery rib, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh oregano
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 cups water or vegetable broth
2 tbsp. Arborio rice
½ tbsp. cornstarch
7 oz. Greek yogurt, drained in a cheesecloth-lined wire sieve for 1 hour
1 large egg yolk
½ tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
½ cup cooked chickpeas (I used canned)

To make the oregano pesto:
Set aside some of the oregano flowers for the garnish.  Add the rest of the blossoms, oregano leaves, garlic, pine nuts, and a pinch of salt to a mini food processor.  Pulse to a paste.  Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and process until somewhat smooth.  It will still have texture.  If you prefer it smoother, you can add more olive oil.  Stir in the Parmesan by hand.  This will make more pesto than you need for the soup.  Cover and keep the rest in the refrigerator.

To make the soup:
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat.  Drizzle in just enough olive oil to coat the bottom and add the celery, carrot, and onion along with a large pinch of salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.  Add the thyme, oregano, and bay leaf.  Pour in the water or broth.  Simmer gently for 15 minutes, then strain into another saucepan and discard the solids.  Add the rice to the strained stock and cook for 30 minutes, or until the rice is tender.

Spoon the cornstarch into a small bowl, add a little of the soup and mix well.  Pour the yogurt into a separate bowl and add about 3 tablespoons of the soup, whisk for a moment, then add the egg yolk and the cornstarch mixture.  Stir well.

Pour the yogurt mixture into the soup and cook over medium-low heat, just to a simmer and until slightly thickened.  Take care not to let it boil, as this will curdle the yogurt.  Add the red pepper flakes (if using) and season with salt and pepper.

To serve:
Serve hot in deep bowls.  Put a few chickpeas in the middle, top with a spoonful of the oregano pesto, and finish with the fresh oregano blossoms.

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