Thursday, May 13, 2010

Vegetable Soup In A Provencale Style

The pistou in this soup is described elsewhere on this blog.

With my wife working late, I decided to have some friends over. One of my buddies is a vegetarian, so I wanted to offer him something that he'd enjoy. Vegetable soup can be kind of dull, so I decided up on a recipe with a number of steps and fresh, organic ingredients to create as many flavor profiles as possible. The red pepper flakes provides a nice bite to the dish. Be sure to season with salt.

As a nice finish, the soup was garnished with pistou and I also served bread and goat cheese. It tasted really great and I'll definitely serve it again. It took me about 2.5 hours to prepare and yielded 6-8 servings. I know that 2.5 hours is a lot of time, but it's really worth it.

On a final note, Gelson's is a great store but it's way out of my budget. The ingredients for this soup, in addition to the cheese and bread, was $40. Lame. Next time I'm going to Ralph's or Santa Monica Glatt. I think it's great to eat organic and all, but doing so still seems to be beyond the budget of many.

Vegetable Soup In A Provencale Style

6-8 servings

For the Stock
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, thickly sliced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 head fennel, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 plum tomatoes, quartered
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf

For the Soup
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 1/2 cups drained and chopped canned plum tomatoes
2 cans (15 ounces each) white cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
6 tsp prepared pistou or extra-virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

For the stock
1. In a pot, heat oil over medium heat.

2. Stir in ingredients, cover and cook over very low heat until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes.

3. Add 8 cups water. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

4. Strain into a large bowl, reserving broth and half the vegetables.

5. Discard bouquet garni containing thyme and bay leaf.

6. Puree reserved vegetables in a blender. Stir into stock and reserve.

For the Soup
1. Heat oil in the pot used to prepare the stock

2. Sauté onion, garlic, carrot, celery, and herbs for just a few minutes to sweat the onions.

3. Add reserved broth, tomatoes and beans.

4. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, partially covered, 30 to 45 minutes.

5. Salt to taste, then ladle into bowls after allowing it to cool. (See notes.) Serve with a dollop of pistou and garnish with a basil leaf.

For the stock, be sure to place thyme and bay leaf in cheesecloth and tie with twine to create a bouquet garni. If you do not, the leaves on the thyme will come loose.

While the soup is simmering, a yellowish film may collect at the top. This can be skimmed for a cleaner presentation.

I also like to serve my soup at 140-145 degrees. It's still hot, but not scalding, which is a big distraction, I think.

Next time, I'll wrap that rosemary and bay leaf up in a bouquet garni.

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