Not a bad weekend to stay at home and make soup, all things considered. This recipe for Provençal vegetable soup au pistou, from Anisette Brasserie chef-partner Alain Giraud (see yesterday's interview with Giraud), would be just the thing: a meal in a bowl, and pretty as the spring we'll have one of these days, once these Biblical rains stop. Giraud says that you can make the soup with or without the pasta (the soup in the photo is without), but that in the south of France one would add "a handful of macaroni, whatever you have" to the pot. Giraud serves this by putting a spoonful of pistou and a spoonful of grated cheese each into a soup plate first, then ladling in the soup.
Provencal vegetable soup au pistou
From: Anisette Brasserie chef-partner Alain Giraud
For the soup:
8 ounces white beans, fresh or dried
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 leeks, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 celery heart, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 medium turnips, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 bouquet garni (a few sprigs of fresh thyme and 2 bay leaves)
salt & pepper to taste
2 yellow potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and rinsed
1 cup small macaroni pasta
4 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch pieces but not peeled
8 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
For the pistou:
1 bunch of basil
2 cloves of garlic
1 ripe tomato, cut into large pieces
½ cup grated Parmesan
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
1. If using dried beans (instead of fresh), soak them overnight in cod water, then drain them. Put the beans in a pot with 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes until tender (45 minutes if using dried beans). Add salt at the end. Drain and reserve.
2. In a deep pot, heat the 4 tablespoons of olive oil and slowly sweat the onions. Add the cut vegetables, the bouquet garni, 2 quarts of water, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
3. Add the potatoes to the soup and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pasta and simmer for 10 more minutes. Check to see if the vegetables are tender, then add the cooked beans. Reserve.
3. In a large pot of boiling salted water, blanch the zucchini for 2 minutes. Drain and add to the soup. Blanch the green beans for 3 minutes in the same water. Drain and add to the soup.
4. For the pistou, in a blender combine the garlic, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Blend to a nice puree. Add the tomato and the basil leaves and blend until smooth. Add the grated parmesan and season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Bring the soup to a back to a simmer, then ladle it in 8 large soup bowls. Garnish with a spoonful of pistou, stirring in extra grated Parmesan if desired.
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