Monday, January 11, 2010

Soupe au Pistou

This heart and body warming soup is named after an ingredient that is added at the very last moment before you serve the soup: "Pistou" which is more or less the same thing as pesto, except that in pistou you leave out the pine nuts and the parmesan. So in summer, when I have an abundance of basil in my kitchen garden, I take a big bunch of basil, pick off the leaves, peel two or three cloves of garlic and, together with some salt mix it all up, adding a bit of olive oil. Purists would do this in a mortar of course, but I believe that life is too short and anyhow, what are modern kitchen gadgets for? You end up with a beautifully green and pungent paste that I fill into ice cube trays until frozen and then keep in plastic bags in the freezer for days like these when you are snowed in and need some sunshine in you soup bowl.
And although the season for Soupe au pistou really is early summer when all ingredients are availalble at our beautiful Provençal market, the cheat's version can easily be cooked in winter - just use frozen vegetables.
Boil green beans, cannelini beans, borlotti beans, some diced carrots, diced white leek, diced potatoes, a tomato or two until tender in a litre and a half of good beef or vegetable stock, add a handful of very small pasta and when tender, stir in a generous tablespoon of pistou and serve with crunchy baguette. Voilà: instant sunshine, even at minus 2°C!

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