Provencal Vegetable Soup

Vegetable Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
5 leeks, chopped (white and light green parts only)
1 1/2 pounds (680 grams) baby red potatoes, peeled and chopped
3/4 pound (340 grams) peeled carrots, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 quarts (about 3 L) chicken or vegetable stock*
2 pinches saffron threads
1/2 pound (340 grams) frozen haricots verts**
4 ounces (115 grams) whole wheat spaghetti**
1 cup (237 mL) Pistou
Salt & Pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan

First, make the Pistou (recipe follows), cover in a layer of olive oil to prevent discoloration, and refrigerate.

Clean and chop all veggies, placing cut potatoes and leeks in large separate bowls filled with cold water. Be careful not to disturb the leeks, so any sand and/or dirt caught in the leeks will fall to the bottom.

Heat olive oil in large Dutch oven or stockpot. Add onions and saute over medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Carefully scoop out leeks from bowl and add to pot. Add potatoes, carrots, salt, and pepper; saute for another 10 minutes. Add stock and saffron, increase heat and bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add haricots verts and spaghetti, simmer for 15 minutes.

Whisk in 1/4 cup (60 mL) of Pistou, then check seasoning; add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a spoonful of Pistou and Parmesan.

*Homemade stock is preferred, but you can use your favorite store-bought stock or broth. (I used a combination of homemade stock, Kitchen Basics Chicken Stock, and bouillon with corresponding amount of water.) Use vegetable stock for vegetarian soup.

**If not serving immediately, hold off on adding haricots verts, spaghetti, and pistou until just before serving. Just before serving, bring to a simmer and add haricots and spaghetti, simmer for 15 minutes, then whisk in the pistou. Also, you can certainly use fresh haricots, trimmed - they're just not always available here.

Pistou

4-6 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons tomato paste
20-25 basil leaves
1/2 cup (115 grams) freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup (125 mL) extra virgin olive oil, plus more for storing

Place garlic, tomato paste, basil, and Parmesan in bowl of food processor. (Use the lower and upper end of ranges based on your taste - for example, I like more garlic, less basil.) Puree with "S" blade. With motor running on low, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Transfer contents to a container, cover with oil to prevent discoloration. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 1 week.

recipes adapted from Barefoot in Paris