Thursday, August 13, 2009

Use 'Em Up Soup, or Soupe Au Pistou

I amazed my Francophile colleague when I told her I made Soupe Au Pistou. Apparently she longs for the Provencal farmhouse meals she enjoyed during her year abroad. This soup is loaded with fresh vegetables, mostly from the CSA box and farmer's market goodies jammed in the crisper drawer of the fridge. I would have taken a picture, but it tasted better than it looked. The recipe is adapted from the May 2009 issue of Gourmet.

Soupe Au Pistou

1 large onion, washed and thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large carrot, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 or 5 small red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 bag baby spinach, or greens such as chard
6 cups water
2 cups frozen lima beans
3 or 4 yellow squash or zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 cup small pasta shells


1 small tomato
1 cup packed basil leaves
1/2 cup packed parsley leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup coarsely grated Gruyere (optional)

1. For the soup, in a large soup pot, pour in oil and cook together the onion, celery, carrot and garlic, with a generous seasoning of salt and pepper, stirring occasionally until the vegetables get some brown on them, 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Add potatoes and cook five minutes more. Taste for seasoning. Add water and bring to a boil, stirring up brown bits.

3. Stir in lima beans, squash, green beans, pasta and tough greens (such as chard, if using. If using spinach, hold off 'til just before serving.) Taste for seasoning. Some thyme, fresh or dried, would be appreciated about now.

4. For the pistou, heat a dry small non-non-stick skillet (you read that right: do not use non-stick) over medium heat until hot, then char tomato on all sides. Hint: lock the tomato in locking tongs and use that to brace the tomato while it's charring. Let the tomato cool, then core.

5. Using the food processor, blitz the tomato, basil, parsley and garlic. Add oil and optional cheese and blend well.

6. Remove soup from heat and stir in pistou. Correct seasoning. Serve soup with pistou alongside.

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