Recipe: European peasant-style vegetable soup model

European peasant-style vegetable soup model

Total time: 1 hour

Servings: 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)

In 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

1. In 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.

2. Add 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.

3. Finally, 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.