Tuesday, February 15, 2011

French Vegetable Soup








Category: Soups
Difficulty: Medium-Hard (lots of chopping)
Healthy (without the Pesto)

In the 1970's there was a great little restaurant at Stanford Shopping Center (before it was like a Beverly Hills mall) called "The Soup Kettle". It had a brilliant cook named Juanita Gomez who just plain knew how to make food that tasted good. My sister Sarah and I got French Vegetable Soup there every time we went shopping. This recipe is not only delicious, it's a great way to use fresh vegies from your Farmer's Market. Just throw whatever you have in the pot. Serve with fresh GF French bread and good cheese and you've got lunch! Be sure and freeze a bunch for the future...it makes at least 14 servings.

Common Sense Tip: By the way, you can buy or use your own homemade frozen Pesto.  Just defrost and float on top of the soup if you don't want to go to the trouble of making the recipe below. Mix a tablespoon of tomato paste into it for the best taste...

Step One:

3 qts water
2 T salt
2 C diced carrots
2 C diced onions
2 C diced potatoes (optional)
1 C dried navy beans (soaked for 4 hours)

Place ingredients in kettle. Bring to a boil , then simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. if cooking the base in advance, set aside uncovered until at least 20 minutes before you serve, then bring to a boil and proceed with the recipe.

Step Two:

2 C diced fresh green beans
2 C any or all: chopped zucchini, green peas, swiss chard, broccoli, asparagus
1/3 C Barilla GF spaghetti (broken into 1/2 inch pieces)
1 slice stale GF  french bread, crumbled
1 C canned white beans (if you didn't have navy beans for the first step)
Large pinch of saffron (optional)
Large pinch of pepper
Boiling water, if necessary

Add additional vegies and flavorings to the boiling soup base and boil slowly, uncovered, until green vegies are tender. Add boiling water if soup seems too thick. Carefully correct seasoning and soup is ready for the addition of pesto flavoring.

Pesto:

2 cloves garlic
4 T. tomato paste
1/4 C fresh or 4 T dried basil
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 C olive oil
3-4 T chopped fresh parsley

Combine all ingredients in blender. Blend until thoroughly mixed. Add fresh parsley last.

Step 3:

Just before serving soup, add a little teaspoon of pesto on top and stir just once so a green swirl remains on the top of the soup--if you want it to be pretty. If you don't care, just stir the whole thing in with vigor!

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