Monday, 26 August 2013

Summer Soup with Pistou

When my daughter was in primary school she began what has remained a long friendship with a girl from Marseille, Camille. She was to spend every summer  school holiday in the hills above Marseille with Camille's family where amongst other delicious meals Camille's mother Denise cooked, she was introduced to soup au pistou. On the one occasion I traveled there to join her I too enjoyed this soup.
Here is my summer soup, inspired by Denise, lacking the beans because at the moment I have carrots, new potatoes, tomatoes, courgettes, petit pois and of course basil, in my kitchen. The difference I bring to this soup is to add parsley leaves and a clove of garlic to the pistou.

For this soup you will need;
1 kilo of mixed summer vegetables
2 medium size onions chopped
3 fat cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 litres of vegetable stock
1 tablespoon of olive oil
A small bunch of herbs, bay, thyme, parsley and if you have it, fresh fennel seed
100g of puntalette or other small pasta suitable for soup.

For the pistou you will need;
1 cupful of basil and parsley leaves, (4 parts basil to 1 part parsley)
1 clove of garlic
100ml of good olive oil

Begin by gently frying the onions and garlic in the olive oil until the onion is translucent and the garlic has taken on a little colour. Add the herbs tied up with a short length of kitchen twine, in order to make removing them easier later on. Meanwhile prepare the vegetables. Chop up the tomatoes and add to the pan, cook for a couple of minutes before adding the stock. Dice carrots and add to the pan as they are going to take longer to cook than other vegetables. Dice potatoes, finely shred beetroot leaves, only a few, pod the peas, runner beans would also be good and of course if you have fresh borlotti beans they would be ideal. Add the vegetables to the soup as you finish preparing them. Finally dice and add  the courgette. Let the soup simmer for 10 minutes or until all the vegetables are barely tender. Add the pasta and while that is cooking make the pistou by placing the basil, parsley and garlic in a pestle and mortar or a mini food processor and bash or blend until you have a green paste. add the olive oil and process a little more.
Serve the soup hot with a swirl of pistou in each bowl.

As you can imagine, any number or variety of vegetables can be employed in making this sort of soup, The soup should be bulky but the intensely flavoured broth should be silky, being thickened only by the presence of the small amount of potato and pasta. 

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