jeudi 21 mars 2013

Jour de Printemps – Soupe au pistou


I first had the caprice of cooking a Soupe au pistou at the sight of the arrays of unusual spring vegetables at the Marché des Enfants Rouges in the Marais during my morning stroll in Paris.

Sunfilled olive oils from an A l'Olivier boutique at the corner of an alley beckoned like smilies.  Inside the market between two alleys, all sorts and colours of peas and beans arrayed like candies you would crush… - haricots plats, haricots blancs, cocos rouges, pois gourmands... that the commerçant was introducing. Some of them came from the Provence. The Soupe au pistou in my collage recipe book rang a bell immediately.

Curiously this soup, a classic though, is not eaten everywhere and could sound blunt to Parisians for example. I told the commerçant in the Enfants Rouges market "I want to make a Soupe au pistou tonight"… It took some efforts to discern what is a Soupe au pistou but in an instant an assortiment of beans, peas and legumes were recommended to me; I was asked what I liked to put in the soup, alongside with tips and astuces for preparing each one given!

The Soupe au pistou is a hearty and rustic minestrone, Its ingredients are not the standard navet, leek, carrot of the wintry potage de legumes.  We put courgette, new potato, tomato, onion, haricots verts, haricots blancs, and as many other summer vegetables as possible like pois gourmand, asparagus…

 
Some règles d’or:

Be sure to peel the vegetables properly. There are already a lot to chew in the soup. Don’t bring in rough fibres for your convives to chew… especially celery and pois gourmand (snow peas). Cut the legumes into cubes of similar size for a nice presentation and cooking evenly.

The key is to simmer and cook the vegetables till al dente (pay attention to the order of adding each vegetable). Make it in advance. If you make it in a hurry like I made this soup that first time I made under the stress of putting a dinner to the table in some impatient moments, chances are you make a soup destined to a purée !

Also make the pesto in a mortar with a pestle make all the difference. Crush garlic, basil leaves, ripe tomato cubes, blend in the best olive oil, season and keep on blending. That will help to make a smooth paste. The pistou is not eaten raw with the soup but being stirred into the hot bouillon still over the stove at the last moment. The pistou will flavour the soup.

A word of caution, if you do not agree with garlic, be moderate, use a mild proportion. Myself 4 garlic cloves pistou made my throat a bit irritated. If you are allegic, roast the garlic cloves before blending, even skip the pesto altogether, you still have a great soup.

I like to add the pasta only when I reheat the soup the next day and the third...


For the provençal people, a soupe au pistou is long summer soirée around the outdoor table, a quintessential minestrone concentrate of fresh produce from their rich, diverse terroir, but as well their « biais de vivre », perhaps the provençal living. 

 oOo

Soupe au Pistou aux légumes printaniers
(Pour 4 personnes)
Ingrédients
1 oignon
3 baby fenouils
1 poireau
1 botte de carottes fane
1 petit céleri-rave
1 courgette
3 petites pommes de terre
Petites pâtes ou vermicelle du riz
Bouquet garni (thym, romarin, persil) enveloppé dans du vert de poireau
1,5 litre de bouillon de volaille (ou juste de l’eau)
haricots blancs à écosser (ou surgelés)
haricots verts plats
petits pois à écosser (ou surgelés)
pois gourmands

Pour le pistou:
4 gousses d’ail
1 gros bouquet de basilic
2 tomates bien mûres
très bonne huile d’olive
sel et poivre
parmesan ou gruyère râpé

Préparer les légumes. Les détailler finement en dés de taille similaire.  Couper les haricots et pois gourmands en petits tronçons.
Dans une casserole, faire suer dans l’huile d’olive l’oignon haché, les dès de fenouil et de poireaux.

Verser le bouillon ou l’eau, ajouter les légumes sauf les haricots/asperges qu’on ajoute plus tard. Laisser cuire à découvert jusqu’à ce que les légumes soient al dente.
Hacher très finement l’ail et le basilic, saler. Blanchir les tomates 20 secondes. Les peler, les épépiner et les écraser. Dans un mortier, piler l’ail, les feuilles de basilic et les tomates. Ajouter l’huile d’olives pour délayer la pommade.
Au dernier moment, ajouter le pistou dans la soupe frémissant, cuire 1 minute. Servir dans les assiettes saupoudrant du gruyère ou parmesan râpé.
oOo

A value-added surprise for you! This soup is best for spring clean body detoxing and slimming! I have been fed on this soup for a week and it works magically!
O
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