So my snails post was a bit too heavy for some…so how about- TADA (insert wand movement here)—-Provençal Vegetable Soup-A very traditional regional soup from Provence- a classic. Pistou-the topping that goes atop the soup is a mixture of basil, tomato paste with garlic, olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Most recipes call for you to make this pistou in a food processor, but Richard Olney from Simple French Food says to make this with a mortar and pestle while sitting at the table with the soup in front of you- fresh and organic. By the way “pounded” is the literal translation of pistou.
My recipe is an adaptation of Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris. I made the change in the Pistou. It called for a tomato paste and I made a more modern fresher version using sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil with the minced garlic, and Parmesan. Sassy French Pistou with my vegetable soup and some french bread with a smear of real butter- a smashing bistro meal.
Here’s the recipe:
Provencal Vegetable Soup (Serves 6 to 8)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
2 cups chopped onions (2 onions)
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 to 4 leeks)
3 cups 1/2-inch-diced unpeeled boiling potatoes (1 pound)
3 cups 1/2-inch-diced carrots (1 pound)
11/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 quarts Homemade Chicken Stock or canned broth
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1/2 pound haricots verts (French string beans), ends removed and cut in half
4 ounces spaghetti, broken in pieces
1 cup Pistou
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
For the Pistou
4 large garlic cloves
1/4 cup tomato paste ( I used sun dried tomatoes, chopped)
24 large basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup good olive oil
Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot, add the onions, and sauté over low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the leeks, potatoes, carrots, salt, and pepper and sauté over medium heat for another 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and saffron, bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender. Add the haricots verts and spaghetti, bring to a simmer, and cook for 15 more minutes.
To serve, whisk 1/4 cup of the pistou into the hot soup, then season to taste. Depending on the saltiness of your chicken stock, you may need to add up to another tablespoon of salt. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and more pistou.
For the Pistou
Place the garlic, tomato paste, basil, and Parmesan in the bowl of a food processor and purée. With the motor running, slowly pour the olive oil down the feed tube to make a paste. Pack into a container, pour a film of olive oil on top, and close the lid. (I made mine with a spoon and smashed the ingredients as best as I could).