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Recipe: European peasant-style vegetable soup model

European peasant-style vegetable soup modelTotal time: 1 hourServings: 12 as a first course or 8 as a main courseNote: Adapted from "Cooking" by James PetersonPistou or pesto1 large bunches basil2 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 modelMeats (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 stripsFats (choose one)3 tablespoons olive oil, rendered duck fat or the fat rendered from the pancettaSlow-cooking vegetables (choose one or more)2 onions, chopped1 large carrot, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and sliced crosswise1 turnip, peeled and diced2 cups dried beans, soaked for 4 hours in cold water and drainedLiquids, tomatoes and slow-cooking herbs (choose one or more)Broth or waterTomatoes, peeled, seeded and choppedBouquet garniStarches (choose one)1 cup long-grain rice such as basmati or jasmine1 to 2 cups dried pasta such as macaroni, orecchiette or zitiFast-cooking vegetables (choose one or more)Green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch sectionsPeas, shelled, or if frozen, thawedFresh shell beans such as fava or limaKale, stems removed and leaves shreddedSwiss chard, stems cut into cubes and leaves shreddedSpinach, chopped or cut into chiffonadeSorrel, choppedFlavorful finishes (choose one or more)Garlic, minced and then crushed with the flat side of the knifeFinely chopped fresh herbs such as mint, tarragon or parsleyPesto or pistou1. 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.

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