Monday, July 11, 2011

Day 192: Soupe au Pistou

Tonight, I made a beautiful dish, the recipe for which I got out of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which I'll be doing my best to cook my way through over the next who-knows-how-long. The translation Julia provides beneath the title Soupe au Pistou is "Provencal Vegetable Soup with Garlic, Basil and Herbs" (no Oxford comma for Mrs. Child). She then explains that, "The pistou itself, like the Italian pesta, is a sauce made of garlic, basil, tomato and cheese, and is just as good on spaghetti as it is in this rich vegetable soup." That made sense, and I plan to make a big batch of the pistou tomorrow to use some more of my fresh basil and to either spread on my homemade bread or use as pasta sauce or even mix into some ground turkey for pistou burgers.

It was quite leisurely preparing the soup. I put the Billie Holiday station on Pandora and started chopping the carrots, potatoes and onions (only half of what Julia asks for, since I didn't need to serve 6 to 8 people; half the recipe made a full meal for tonight's dinner and tomorrow's lunch). Then those needed a full forty minutes to boil, which seemed a bit excessive to me, but if forty minutes the recipe said, forty minutes the recipe got. This also helped me get my navy beans boiled, as I had thought I had canned white beans but apparently did not. While all that was bubbling away, I had quite a bit of time to cut my green beans (diced, according to the recipe, so I cut them in about inch pieces like they are in the can, which is so not stylish now that it made me smile) and break the spaghetti and crumble the bread (a lot of starches go into this soup, which makes it a satisfying meal unto itself) and also to make the pistou (though Julia outlines how to do it by hand, I dumped everything in the food processor, because I could). I also had time to write a letter to a friend and straighten up the house before my husband got home.

The soup, once all boiled together and mixed with the pistou, was beautiful and salty and oily and luxurious. I served some crisped bread with it, and a few slices of local cheese I'd gotten at the farmer's market (Brush Creek Creamery's Farmstead Cheese, Brush Creek Select). It was lovely to eat, definitely something I'll be making again, and completely vegetarian, which I like, especially when we've had meat at lunch (Ian came home on his lunch break and I heated up leftover pork loin). This was not a challenging meal for me, but a good way to ease into Mastering the Art of French Cooking as I try to cook my way through it and teach myself to be the best cook I can be. I was diligent and read the entire recipe twice before starting. Thankfully, this wasn't a variation on anything so I only had to read one recipe.

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