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Category: Soups

European peasant-style vegetable soup model

WALK into the cookbook section of a good bookstore these days and it's what you don't see that's the biggest gift of the season. Instead of the miles of aisles of Food Network-packaged slickness, the interchangeable Paula/Rachael/Giadas that have been ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour | Serves 12 as a first course or 8 as a main course
Note: Adapted from "Cooking" by James Peterson.

Pistou or pesto

  • 1 large bunches basil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced then crushed with the flat side of a knife
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (for pesto only)
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (about 1 cup lightly packed)

Step 1In a blender, process the basil, garlic and three-fourths cup olive oil on high for about 30 seconds. For the pesto, add the pine nuts. Transfer to a bowl. Add one-half cup olive oil and the cheese and stir to combine. This makes about 3/4 cup pistou, and slightly more pesto. To make a small amount of pistou or pesto, grind the ingredients by hand in a mortar with a pestle.

Vegetable soup model

  • Meats (choose one)
  • 4 confit Pekin duck thighs or 2 confit moulard duck thighs, meat pulled off the bone and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 pound prosciutto end, cut into one-half-inch dice
  • 1/2 pound pancetta, cut into 1-inch strips
  • Fats (choose one)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, rendered duck fat or the fat rendered from the pancetta
  • Slow-cooking vegetables (choose one or more)
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and sliced crosswise
  • 1 turnip, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups dried beans, soaked for 4 hours in cold water and drained
  • Liquids, tomatoes and slow-cooking herbs (choose one or more)
  • Broth or water
  • Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • Bouquet garni
  • Starches (choose one)
  • 1 cup long-grain rice such as basmati or jasmine
  • 1 to 2 cups dried pasta such as macaroni, orecchiette or ziti
  • Fast-cooking vegetables (choose one or more)
  • Green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch sections
  • Peas, shelled, or if frozen, thawed
  • Fresh shell beans such as fava or lima
  • Kale, stems removed and leaves shredded
  • Swiss chard, stems cut into cubes and leaves shredded
  • Spinach, chopped or cut into chiffonade
  • Sorrel, chopped
  • Flavorful finishes (choose one or more)
  • Garlic, minced and then crushed with the flat side of the knife
  • Finely chopped fresh herbs such as mint, tarragon or parsley
  • Pesto or pistou

Step 1In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, cook one of the meats in your fat of choice along with the slow-cooking vegetables (except the beans, which, if you are using, are added along with the liquid) for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are soft and shiny.

Step 2Add the liquid or broth to cover and the dried beans (if using), nestle the bouquet garni in the middle of the pot, and simmer gently, partially covered, until the vegetables and beans are almost tender, about 5 minutes with vegetables only, slightly more if using beans. Add any starch, cook until al dente, about 5 minutes, and then add whatever green vegetables you like and simmer until they are vibrant in color and crisp-tender. This makes about 3 quarts of soup.

Step 3Finally, decide on the finish: If you are using garlic or herbs, whisk them into the soup. If you are using pesto or pistou, whisk a bit of it into the soup and pass the rest at the table.

Each of 8 servings:
275 calories; 11 grams protein; 20 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fiber; 17 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 21 mg. cholesterol; 418 mg. sodium.
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