Mar 3, 2011

Soupe au Pistou and a feeling of autumn

This summer was long and strangely humid. I am looking forward to a break from unrelenting, unforgiving heat. Dry leaves under my feet make me wonder, are they the victims of the heat or the first signs of autumn?
Autumn in Melbourne is nothing like European, when crying sky sets off the sadness in people, even the windy fireworks of leaves don't help. 

Here the days are sunny and mild, with chilli mornings and crisp nights. Thinking of autumn on a cool summer's day, I made Soupe au Pistou, a Provencal version of minestrone. After earning 'Your mum can cook' comment from my daughter's friend, I can confidently say it is simply the best soup I have ever made.

Autumn, please come, I am ready.

Soupe au Pistou

Recipe from Tolarno Bistro

I think the magic of this soup comes from the vegitable stock and basil pistou (Provencal version of pesto) recipies I found in this book as well (all below).
  • olive oil
  • 2 leeks, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 2 medium carots
  • 1 medium fennel bulb
  • 2 cups soup pasta
  • 400gm can of diced tomatoes
  • sea salt
  • freshly groud black pepper
  • 375gm cannellini beans
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 2 liters of vegetable stock
  • basil pistou
Heat oil in a large pot and saute leeks, celery, potatoes, carrots and fennel until tender. Add the stock and pasta. Cook pasta pasta until it is al dente, adding more stock if needed. Add cannelini beans, peas, zucchini and pistou and cook for 5 minutes or so.
 Vegetable stock makes 2 - 3 litres 
  • 2 leeks, coarsely chopped
  • 2 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 6 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • fresh herbs
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 4 litres of water
  • 2 star anise
  • white wine
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Put everything in a large pot and boil for 20 minutes. Cool and strain.

Basil Pistou 
Makes about 1 cup
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 24 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 8 table spoons grated parmesan 
  • sea salt 
  • freshly ground black pepper
Whiz garlic and basil in a processor, then add oil, through feeder tube. Remove to a bowl and mix in the parmesan. Season to taste.