Every summer my tarragon plant gets quickly out of control, growing to at least four feet tall and taking over a good third of our large herb bed. I do a lot of things to try to keep it in check–pesto, tarragon salt, tarragon chicken, etc.–but sooner or later it has to be somewhat aggressively hacked back. This year all of the herbs are growing out of bounds, so it was time to make a pot of fresh herb soup. I also had some green garlic and green shallots from the C.S.A. share (both are just the immature versions of those plants, and you can use the whole plant for cooking), so I chopped those up and softened them in olive oil and then poured in some stock and tossed in a whole lot of fresh herbs.
You can use any types of herb you like, just keep in mind that you should include higher ratios of milder herbs, like parsley, tarragon, and thyme, and smaller amounts of those with stronger flavors, such as rosemary. I used a whole lot of tarragon, plus lemon thyme, oregano, dill, chives, and a little bit of rosemary. The most time-consuming aspect of this soup is stripping the herbs away from any woody stems. For thyme, oregano, and tarragon, you can just run your fingers from the top to the bottom and the leaves will strip off. Use younger, more tender herbs whenever possible.
I topped the soup with poached eggs and a drizzle of olive oil to make it into a light meal.
Fresh Herb Soup
- 1 bunch green shallots (or green onions), trimmed and chopped
- 2 stalks green garlic (or a few cloves of mature garlic), trimmed and chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- A few large handfuls of mixed fresh herbs, such as tarragon, thyme, oregano, and dill, all tough stems removed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
- salt, to taste
- poached eggs and/or extra virgin olive oil, to serve
- In a soup pot, warm the green shallots and green garlic in the olive oil until they have just softened. Add in the vegetable stock and all of the herbs, along with the white pepper. Bring the soup to a simmer and let it cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the toughest herbs are soft.In a soup pot, warm the green shallots and green garlic in the olive oil until they have just softened. Add in the vegetable stock and all of the herbs, along with the white pepper. Bring the soup to a simmer and let it cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the toughest herbs are soft.
- Carefully blend the soup to break down the herbs, using either an immersion blender to blend it in the pot, or by transferring the soup in thirds to a stand blender (when blending hot liquids in a stand blender, remove the cap insert and cover with a hand towel while blending, so you don't get splashed with hot liquid). Taste the soup and adjust the salt, if needed.
- Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and top each serving with a poached egg and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, if desired.
You can also toss in a few handfuls of spinach, chard, or kale to give this a little more body, but I like the flavor of the herbs alone. Some grated parmesan is another nice way to top the soup before serving.
This barely made a dent in the tarragon plant, so I will be making some pesto really soon–it’s wonderful with seafood.
Thanks for reading,