06 February, 2012

Soupe au Pistou | The New York Times

This seasonal vegetable soup is perhaps Provence’s answer to minestrone.
The ingredient list is long, but the labor involved in making this soup is minimal.  It tastes best if you make it through step 2 a day ahead. Refrigerate overnight, then bring back to a simmer and proceed with the recipe. ~Martha Rose Shulman 

Soupe au Pistou ingredients
Makes 6 to 8 servings
For the soup:
1 1/2 cups white beans, soaked for six hours in 6 cups water and drained
2 quarts water
1 large onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
A bouquet garni made with a few sprigs each thyme and parsley, a Parmesan rind and a bay leaf
Salt to taste
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green part only, cleaned and sliced
1-LB tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, or 1 14-ounce can, with liquid
2 cups shredded savoy or green cabbage
2 large carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 medium-size zucchini, scrubbed and diced
2 medium-size turnips, peeled and diced
1/2-LB green beans, trimmed and broken into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups), blanched for five minutes and set aside
1/2 cup soup pasta, such as macaroni or small shells
Freshly ground pepper

For the pistou:
2 large garlic cloves, halved, green shoots removed
Salt to taste
2 cups, tightly packed, fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Freshly ground pepper

For serving:
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Notes: The blanched green beans will keep for two or three days in a covered bowl in the refrigerator.

Start the beans:  Drain the white beans and combine with 2-QTS water in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; skim off any foam, then add half the onion, half the garlic and the bouquet garni. Reduce the heat; cover and simmer 45 minutes. Salt to taste.

Start the vegetables: Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet, and add the remaining chopped onion and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes.

Add the leeks and remaining garlic. Stir together for a few minutes, and add the tomatoes. Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes have cooked down slightly and the mixture is fragrant, five to 10 minutes. Stir this mixture into the soup pot; add all of the remaining vegetables except the green beans, and bring back to a simmer. Cover and simmer over Low heat for 45 minutes to an hour. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

If preparing ahead, stop here for Day 1:  Refrigerate overnight, then bring back to a simmer and proceed with the recipe.

Blanch green beans while the soup is simmering:  Blanch for 5 minutes in salted boiling water. Transfer to a bowl of ice-cold water. Drain and set aside.

Make the pistou: Mash the garlic with a generous pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle. Remove it and set aside. Grind the basil to a paste in the mortar, a handful at a time, then add the garlic back in and mix together well. Work in the olive oil a tablespoon at a time, then stir in the cheese.

Add the pasta and green beans:  About 10 minutes before serving, add pasta to the simmering soup and cook until cooked al dente. Add pepper; taste and adjust salt. Stir the blanched green beans into the soup and heat through.

To serve:  Add a spoonful of pesto to each bowl for guests to stir in. Pass additional Parmesan for sprinkling.

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