Provincal Vegetable Soup with Garlic, Basil and Herbs
3 quarts water
2 cups diced carrots
2 cups diced potatoes
2 cups diced onion or the white parts of leeks
1 TB salt
2 cups white beans, cooked or canned
2 cups green beans, frozen veggies or what ever you have on hand (I had broccoli and cauliflower)
1/3 cup vermicelli (or broken speghetti. I used orzo which absorbed a lot of the broth)
1 slice stale bread, crumbled into crumbs (or use about 1/4 cup bread crumbs)
Pinch of saffron
4 garlic cloves, mashed
6 TB tomato puree (I used tomato sauce)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (or 1 1/2 TB dried basil)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 - 1/2 cup olive oil
In a large pot slowly boil the carrots, potatoes, onions (or leeks) and salt for 40 minutes. Add more salt if necessary.
Add the green beans (or what ever fresh vegetable you're using) beans, the vermicelli, bread crumbs, pepper and saffron. Boil slowly for about 15 minute or until your vegetable is just cooked through. Correct seasoning again if necessary.
While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the pistou as follows: in a bowl blend the garlic, tomato puree, basil and cheese. Drop by drop, mix in the olive oil. When the soup is ready to serve, add a cup of the soup to the pistou and blend. Then pour this mixture into your soup. Serve with bread.
Pairs Well With
I found the recipe for this amazingly delicious bowl of vegetable goodness in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She explains that early summer in the Mediterraneans is the season for Soupe Au Pistou. Pistou is a Provincal pesto, made with garlic, basil, tomato, cheese and olive oil. It's added to the soup just before serving and provides a fabulous flavor. Think about it...all those herbs...freshly added at the last minute which means they are still bursting with flavor because they haven't been cooked away. The herbs aren't shuffled off into the background in this soup. They're aren't necessarily center stage either. What they do is effectively lift the fresh vegetables, supporting them in a way that lets you appreciate every simple ingredient that has come together in your bowl.