So, on Friday night N and I went to opening of Julie and Julia. I decided it would be fun to invite her over for dinner first, and of course, in keeping with the theme of the evening, break out Mastering the Art of French Cooking and make something full of butter. Well, I did break out the old cookbook, but none of the recipes were really speaking to me. I wanted something that would be light and tasty, using all the wonderful produce that is around at this time of year, and that would have a Provencal feel. I know that it's pretty hard to find anything in France that would qualify as a proper vegetarian meal, but I thought that Julia must have something that I could make work. I was wrong. I was finding myself uninspired to create this meal and my day got busier than expected. I didn't have time to go shopping (luckily I have a garden and a fridge full of produce these days) and we had to eat really early to get to the show on time, so I decided that I would try my hand at a Soupe au Pistou with a green salad and some good toasted french bread drizzled with olive oil. I worried that this might be a bit too simple, when Mastering the Art of French Cooking is anything but, and I didn't want to disappoint, but time was not on my side and I had to make something. I adapted Julia's recipe, adding a few things, omitting a few others, and it turned out delicious! I only hope Julia would approve.
Soupe au Pistou de Julia (adaptee par moi)
4 litres of water
2 cups each diced carrots, potatoes, and a combination of leeks, shallots and onions)
1 Tbsp sea salt, fresh ground pepper
Boil the water, vegetables, salt and pepper slowly for about 40 minutes.
2 cups canned chick peas
2 cups diced green and yellow zucchini
1 cup diced green beans
Add to the soup and continue boiling gently for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the pistou:
4 cloves of garlic, grated
4 Tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (when I say parmesan, I mean a wedge of cheese that you are going to grate yourself, not some tub of "parmesan" dust that they probably swept off the floor of the cheese factory)
1/4 cup olive oil
Combine in a bowl. Once the soup is finished cooking, taste and correct seasonings. Add one ladelful of soup into the pistou, then add the pistou into the pot of soup and give a stir to combine. make sure to take a good whiff of the soup as you add the pistou, heavenly! Serve immediately with really good toasted artisanal bread drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with fleur de sel. Bon Appetit!!
PS Just as I am posting this, my Mom called to tell me that there is a Julia Child special on PBS right now, I turned it on and she is making a omelette with the ease that most of us can only make toast.