Saturday, August 8, 2009

Soupe au Pistou

From Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters. What follows is a close paraphrase, with commentary.
  • 1 lb fresh shell beans (we used cranberry beans)
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • (4 stalks celery; 4 carrots)
  • Bouquet garni of thyme, parsley, peppercorn, and bay leaf
  • 1 lb green beans
  • 2 green zucchini
  • 2 yellow summer squash
  • 2 tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 lb orzo
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups basil
  • Parmesan
  • Olive oil
  • (pine nuts)

Shell the beans and cook about 30 minutes in 2 quarts salted water along with the onion and bouquet garni; we also added celery and carrots, because we had some old ones in the fridge that looked sad. While the beans are cooking, cut the green beans, zucchini, and yellow squash into chunks the size of the tip of your little finger, so that each spoonful of soup will have a variety of vegetables. Peel, seed, and chop the tomatoes, reserving the juice.

When the shell beans are tender, drain, reserving the liquid, and to which you should add the tomato juice. Discard the bouquet garni and vegetables. Bring the bean broth back to a boil, lower the heat, and season with salt. Add the green beans, and when the broth has returned to a simmer, add the zucchini and squash. When the broth returns to a simmer again, add the shell beans and diced tomatoes, let it all cook together 10 minutes, add the pasta, and cook 10 minutes more. The broth should be busy with vegetables.

When the pasta has cooked, taste and adjust the seasoning. Let the soup sit for an hour and reheat before serving. Shortly before serving, make a pesto by hand: crush the garlic and optional pine nuts in the mortar and pestle into a paste; finely mince the basil; add olive oil and Parmesan. Serve the soup with a generous spoonful of pistou in each bowl and pass a bowl with more grated Parmesan.

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