Being at home non stop changes my whole routine, but shouldn’t limit what I can do in the kitchen. My kitchen at home is well equipped and I can still make a lot of nice food without the vast easy availability of food at my former workplace. I will continue to submit entries to the Deep Plate Blog each month. However it will require much more thought and planning than before.
Normally my entries are done pretty quickly after I receive a plate from Bauscher. Due to recent events it took me a little longer to complete my January entry.
Another major benefit of my new status is that my body is not subject to the 2,000 calories of daily food consumption that came with my teaching position. I have a much healthier diet now and I am making purchasing decisions that will feed my family with less meat protein yet leave them satiated. I’ve been thinking a lot about Provence and France lately. As I was thinking about my plate presentation for Deep Plate, I remembered a Soupe au Pistou we cooked once with my friend and co-teacher Michel Depardon. He made his version of Soupe au Pistou and I was completely drawn to the beauty of its simplicity and the complexity of its flavor.
I decided I wanted to make similar soup yet keep all the elements whole. Pistou refers to the garlic, basil and parmesan purée that is put into the soup at the last moment. Pistou is a very close cousin to Pesto. In Michel’s version of Soupe au Pistou we used fresh coco beans. Little white beans that are a lot of work to shuck but add an unmistakable fresh legume flavor to the soup. I chose instead to use dried cannellini beans, which are available in bulk at Whole Foods.
My recipe for Soupe au Pistou:
2 lbs. Dried Cannellini Beans (you could substitute navy beans or great northern)
1 gl. of Chicken stock
2 Tbsp. of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 cloves of garlic
For the Pistou:
1 oz of fresh basil
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp. of grated Parmesan (preferably Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano)
Soak the cannellini beans in water overnight. If you live at altitude like I do, I recommend pressure cooking them, if you are at sea level you can cook them until tender in the chicken stock.
To pressure cook the beans. Place the beans in the pressure cooker and cover with chicken stock . Cover and put on high heat until the pressure indicator pops. Turn down the temperature and count off twenty minutes. After twenty minutes cool down the pressure cooker by pouring cold water on it. Check the consistency of the beans. If you are happy with them then set them aside. If not continue to cook them under pressure in small time increments until they are done.
While the beans are cooking, cut all the vegetables into a small dice. Add a little olive oil to a pan and cook the onions over low heat until they are translucent. Approximately 10 minutes. Then add the carrots and the garlic. Continue to cook until they are almost tender. Then add the zucchini. Season and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Add the vegetables to the beans and stock. If necessary add more chicken stock to reach the desired consistency.
To make the Pistou: Pick the leaves of fresh basil and blanch them very quickly in boiling water. Then submerge them in ice water. Remove the basil leaves and wring out any water. Mince the garlic very fine and then in a blender add the garlic, basil leaves, grated Parmesan and the extra virgin olive oil. Blend until very smooth.
Heat up the soup and serve in a bowl and top with the Pistou. Enjoy. If you want to make Michel’s version purée the soup and then top with the Pistou.