Thursday, August 9, 2012

Soupe au Pistou #CookforJulia




Julia Child’s first television show was aired in February 1963, just 19 days after yours truly made my world debut.  And yet, this woman has influenced me in tangible ways.  First off, I have learned that fear of failure has no place in the kitchen.  As Julia said, “In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”  Even as medical professionals were saying to avoid butter and eat lower fat margarine, I held to Julia’s belief that butter was not evil.  (And we were vindicated!)  “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”  I have learned to enjoy a glass of wine while cooking, at least on weekends.  I have learned to wing it, as if cameras were rolling, if something doesn’t go the way it should while cooking.  I have learned that we learn best by doing.  A quote from the famous fallen potato pancake episode:  “The only way you learn to flip things is just to flip them!”  Also, "every woman should have a blowtorch."  I agree, Julia, and I do!  I have learned that a cook should never deprecate her own food.  Accept compliments graciously.  And most importantly, share.  Share food, share skills, share recipes.  Thank you, Julia Child, for doing just that.  We have been blessed by your generosity.  Long may your legacy continue!

In honor of Julia’s 100th birthday, folks worldwide are cooking her recipes and PBS, where you can still see her shows, is celebrating one of its biggest stars.  Head over to their site and check out the recipes and cook one in honor of a great lady. 

I’ve chosen a recipe from Julia’s first and most famous book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking (mine is the 1971 edition) - a lovely summery vegetable soup finished with a sharp garlic tomato pistou that I believe honors her love of fresh produce cooked into the ultimate comfort food.   Who doesn’t feel better after a bowl of soup?

Ingredients
For the soup:
Good drizzle olive oil for sautéing vegetables
6 oz or 170g onions
7 oz or 200g carrots
10 oz or 280g potatoes
1 tablespoon salt (I used 1 tablespoon vegetable stock powder and 1 teaspoon of fine sea salt.)
7 oz or 200g fresh green beans
14 oz or 400g can cannellini beans
1 oz or 30g spaghetti or vermicelli.  (I used tagliatelle.  Because that’s what I had.)
1 slice stale white bread
A few good grinds of fresh black pepper
Pinch of saffron

For the pistou:
4 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil (I actually used 1 tablespoon dried oregano.  Can’t seem to find fresh basil this time of year in Egypt and because I love the fresh stuff, I’ve never bought dried basil.)
1 oz or 30g Parmesan cheese plus more for serving, if desired
1/4 cup or 60ml fruity olive oil

Method
Peel your onions and dice them finely.  Drizzle a little olive oil in pot big enough to hold at least 5-quarts or 4.75 liters.  Put your onions in to sweat over a low heat while you peel and chop your carrots and potatoes.




Peel the carrots and cut them into small squares.  Pop them in the pot with the onions and give it a good stir.  Give the pot another drizzle of olive oil, if it looks dry. 




Peel the potatoes and cut them into small squares.  Add them to the onion pot and stir briefly.



Add in three quarts or just under three liters of water.  Season with the salt or the stock powder and salt, if desired.  Cook over a medium heat for 30-40 minutes.



Meanwhile, make the pistou.  Put your tomato paste into a mortar with your fresh or dried herb and four cloves of garlic.  Bash it about gently until the garlic is no longer visible.




Grate your Parmesan and add it to the mortar.  Mix thoroughly. 

Add enough olive oil to loosen it up a bit – about 1/4 cup or 60ml.   Set this aside.



Top and tail your green beans and cut them into short lengths.  Crush your pasta of choice into small pieces as well.



Crumble your stale bread slice or cut it into tiny pieces with a serrated knife and rinse your cannellini beans and leave in the colander to drain.  (Sorry - forgot to take a photo of the bread!)


When you are about 20 minutes from serving, add the green beans, cannellini beans and pasta to the pot.   Give it a good stir and let it cook for a few minutes.




Add the bread and stir.  Cook for about 15 minutes.  The bread will disintegrate and thicken the broth deliciously.  If it is too thick for your taste, add a little more water. 


Season with black pepper and the pinch of saffron.


Remove some of the broth with a ladle or measuring cup and add it into the tomato pistou.   Stir to loosen. 


Some green beans slipped in.  Not a big deal.  Just try to mix without mashing them. 


Reserve two or three teaspoons of pistou (for garnish when serving) and stir the rest of it into the soup.  Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if necessary.  The Parmesan may have added enough, but it is a good idea to check before serving.



Serve each bowl topped with a reserved 1/2 teaspoon of pistou and some extra grated Parmesan, if desired.   (At our house, extra Parmesan is compulsory.)


Enjoy!  Now give this a try or go to the PBS site and choose yourself a Julia recipe!  Or at the very least, open a bottle of wine and raise a toast.  To Julia!

You might be interested in these other Julia Child recipes I have made:

Rustic Potato Bread - because there is nothing more divine that the smell of bread baking and you can't beat this potato bread for a soft crumb and crunchy crust.  No bread pan required!

and Coq au Vin with Cornish Game Hens - Julia's classic French dish with little birds

and Cherry Clafoutis - Once again, a classic French dessert.  Cherries in a eggy batter, baked to fluffy perfection.





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4 comments:

  1. Hi, I saw this on Google+ and it looks so like my kind of dish. I have all the ingredients and fresh basil growing outside as well. I am thinking that this may be on my menu today. Thanks!

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  2. Wonderful! I am sure it will be even more delicious with fresh basil. I love that we get seasonal vegetables and herbs in abundance in Egypt but I sure miss the off-season things when they aren't available. Please let me know how it turns out!

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  3. A delicious soup and gorgeous tribute to Julia Child!

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  4. Thanks, Katherine! And thank you for hosting the blog hop! I keep checking back to see what everyone has added. There are some great Julia recipes, including your lovely green beans, of course!

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