The Barefoot Comtesse: Provençal Soup au Pistou
I’ve long felt inclined toward simple, rustic, southern Italian cooking. Olive oil instead of butter, loads of fresh veggies, minimal meat, all complemented by small amounts of simply dressed pasta. I have to say, one of the wonderful things about life is how it surprises you, and how you surprise yourself as you venture on.
I am most surprised that my long-standing inclination toward the Italian way of enhancing beautiful, fresh food by not fussing with it too much is giving way, somewhat, to the French way of fussing with it so much it becomes something gloriously else.
This delicious Provençal Soup au Pistou, from Barefoot in Paris: Easy French Food You Can Make at Home, is a wonderful transition between the two.
Here are some reviews of the soup, heard around our dinner table this evening:
Child: This is so good. Make this again! This is so good, I’m not even drinking water. Mommy, this is so good I’m not drinking water!
Cute Banker: Just so you and I are on the same page, chicken broth is not meat.
CB is a food critic now.
Despite his admonition, Provençal Soup au Pistou, was a hit with CB and with the kids. Garlicky and hot, chewy and satisfying, and intensely flavorful.
You start out with a simple vegetable soup but then you swirl in this magic mixture called pistou, which makes it decadent. Even though you are eating your veggies (and only veggies, Cute Banker wants me to remind you), you don’t feel at all deprived.
I was going to make garlic bread too, but there was no need. The pistou is robustly garlicky, as well as salty due to the parm. And the potatoes in the soup eliminated the need for bread. Not to mention, the spaghetti. I used quinoa spaghetti which I find always holds up well in demanding applications like bumping around a pot of hot broth, vying for attention along with a bunch of starchy veggies.
I normally don’t keep saffron lying around (perhaps I should!), so I left it out. Looking back, using turmeric instead would have been marvelous, and there are so many new studies out about the major health benefits of that vibrant spice. Either one would lend a nice yellow depth to the broth, although without them it was still très appealing.
While magnifique the way it is, I have to admit: it would be entirely scrumptious to add some pieces of hard, Spanish chorizo. Talk about your cultural convergence.
It was a really warming, delicious meal for a rainy spring night.
Vive la France!
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