Sunday, February 12, 2012

Soupe au pistou

A quick light dinner and again, for those keeping track, totally vegetarian.  This is a play on the famous dish of southern France, soupe au pistou: basically a vegetable or bean soup with a garnish of basil pistou. French pistou is different from Italian pesto in that it does not have any pinenuts or often, no Parmesan cheese either (I've seen a few variations of this in my culinary research). In my case, the pistou was actually made from green peas, mint and garlic. A remnant of my market sample day earlier. Here's what I did:

I chopped up half an onion, a zucchini, a couple of carrots, and a stalk or two of celery into a fine dice - or a very sad attempt at a proper French brunoise.  Sweat those vegetables down in a pan with a bit of oil until they start to soften. Deglaze with whatever you have on hand (I had my usual vermouth), follow that by a generous tablespoon of tomato paste, two bay leaves and enough boiling water to provide a goodly amount of broth. I then dropped in about a cup of drained and rinsed tinned white kidney beans. Follow this with a pinch or two of dried oregano and salt and pepper. Let it simmer away for a good half hour. Adjust for seasoning, then simply serve up with garnishes of your choice. I had chopped parsley, scallions, and of course, a  spirited dollop of green pea and mint pesto right on top.

The pesto was basically made from blanched and shocked green peas (this preserves the colour), a bunch of mint leaves, a clove of garlic, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Put it all in the food processor and start whizzing it up. Stop once or twice and scrape down the sides. Then start the motor up again and start drizzling in some cold-pressed canola oil until you reach the consitency you like. It stores in the fridge for a few days before you start to lose the green colour.

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