I just can't help myself! - I have to feature one more week of recipes that are a result of my recent trip to Great Britain. After all, with the beautiful images of the royal wedding still playing through our minds (and our televisions!), how fun to transport ourselves, through some delicious food, across the Atlantic to beautiful England. Of course with the Duke and Duchess away on their honeymoon, someone has to be taking care of business! :)
It was bittersweet leaving London last Sunday. I have a tender, but sad mental picture of my granddaughters standing in the narrow street, waving their little hands enthusiastically as the taxi whisked me away to Heathrow airport to catch my flight. The sweet part was that I love my family, friends and life back in the States too, so I was looking forward to reconnecting here at home.
It was an eight hour flight, which can be a long ordeal sitting on a cramped plane, but an interesting diversion made the time and mileage fly by! My husband purchased a copy of the British foodie magazine, Delicious, earlier that week and I saved it for the plane trip. As I began to pour through the pages I was delighted with one fabulous looking recipe after another. The magazine also shares a ton of great cooking and culinary tips. By the time I closed up the magazine, several hours of the flight were already behind me and a myriad of fun new recipe possibilities were swirling through my mind. This week my favorites (although it was difficult to narrow them down) will be swirling their way into The Cafe's daily blog posts. Thank you Delicious magazine!
While Great Britain has had a tremendous influence on a multitude of other nations, the opposite is also quite true. This is very evident in the cuisine that we experienced while visiting London. Delicious magazine showcases many of the fun international selections that are popular there. The recipe that I'm featuring today, Soupe au Pistou, has a French influence. The pistou which gives the soup incredible flavor (or flavour as they say in England!) is just a version of pesto that is common in France. I call this soup Spring in a Bowl because it just seems to cry out with all of the delicious and vibrant flavors of the season! This soup makes a uniquely wonderful first course for a dinner party. Serve it with a warm crusty baguette and a fresh salad and you have a fantastic, low fat and fiber-rich dinner.
Soupe au Pistou
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium leek, white part only thinly sliced
1 large potatoes, diced into 1/4 inch cubes or 1 cup tiny potatoes quartered
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock, I used chicken stock
8 ounces tiny green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
2 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly cut
1 can cannellini beans
1 can baby broad beans, I used baby lima beans
4 ounces tiny frozen peas
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 handfull of fresh basil, about 1/3 cup, packed
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 ounce Parmesan Reggiano, finely grated
2-3 tablespooons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt, to taste
1. Make the pistou; place the garlic, basil and pine nuts in a food processor and whizz until mixture comes to a paste. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and parmesan, (add moreolive oil, 1 teaspoon at a time, if too thick) then season with sea salt to taste.
2. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the leek and cook for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the potato and stock, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Add the remaining ingredients except for the peas, season, then simmer for another 10 minutes or until all vegetables are tender. Add frozen peas and stir in 2 tablespoons pistou. Serve in bowls with the remaining pistou on the side.
I like to serve this soup with a tiny scoop of the remaining pesto on top and guests can stir it in as they eat.