Soupe au Pistou

This is France’s spring/summer equivalent of Italian Minestrone. Since the list of vegetables is long, just use what you have on hand, including a different bean and/or pasta. As summer vegetables become more prolific, you can use a variety of beans and squash.

1 small onion, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

Vegetables – pick and choose based upon your availability:

2 leeks, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise, washed well, and drained

2 small celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 medium carrot, cut into small dice


1 small zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 small yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 small tomatoes, chopped or ½ can (15oz) diced tomatoes

3 small red bliss potatoes, cut into ½-inch pieces

1 C fresh or frozen green beans, cut into ½ inch piece

1 C fresh or frozen peas

1 can (15oz.) small white beans, such as navy, rinsed and drained

5-6 C vegetable or chicken broth

1 Parmesan rind, about 1 by 3 inches
 (-optional)

¼ cup small pasta, such as elbow, small shells, ditalini or stars (-optional)

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Pistou – if fresh herbs are not available, top the soup with a bit of fresh lemon zest

1 C lightly packed basil leaves (can substitute parsley or cilantro)

1-2 cloves garlic

1/3 C grated parmesan

¼ C olive oil

Soup: Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, leeks and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and golden in spots, about 10 minutes. 


Stir in zucchini, squash, tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, broth, and Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in beans and simmer, covered, just until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Remove rind. 


Pistou: Pulse together the basil, garlic, Parmesan, and oil in a food processor to a loose paste. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Serve each bowl with a small dollop of pistou. Serves 6-8.


Make Your Own Pickles and More

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We were talking to  gardeners and school educators yesterday and the subject led to what to do with all the wonderful summer veggies coming along now. Here’s a great way your summer bounty is transformed into a tangy, crunchy, flavorful snack or side dish, complete with all kinds of health benefits.

Instead of the more common vinegar preservation, lacto-fermenting produces lactic acid, which not only gives dilly veggies their tang, but also preserves them without canning so that they will keep in cold storage for months with all their enzymes and vitamins intact. Here’s a natural way to get the fantastic benefits of a probiotic into your diet – with great taste and crunch.

2 quarts water
4-6 T good sea salt
1-2# veggies of your choice- young green beans (trimmed), carrots, okra, radishes, turnips, kohlrabi, fennel (use firmer veggies if doing a mix) OR all cucumbers (whole, wedges or thickly sliced)
1-2 t red pepper flakes, or to taste
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 T black peppercorns
2 handfuls of dill (flowering heads preferred, but leaves work well too)

Instructions:

  1. Dissolve sea salt in water to make a brine. Set aside.
  2. Divide the red pepper flakes, garlic cloves, peppercorns, and dill between 2 wide mouth quart-size glass jars.
  3. Place the veggies/cucumbers on top of the seasonings, straight up if they are long and thin or sideways if thicker and cut into chunks.
  4. Cover with brine solution, leaving 1 inch headspace at the top of jar. If necessary, weigh the veggies down with a small jar filled with water, just enough to allow the veggies to be submerged in the brine.
  5. Cover the jar with a tight lid, airlock lid, or coffee filter secured with a rubber band.
  6. Culture at room temperature (60-70°F is preferred) until desired flavor and texture are achieved. If using a tight lid, burp daily to release excess pressure. Taste after 3 days to decide if you like the flavor more fermented, but I find 3-6 days is plenty.
  7. Once the veggies are finished, put a tight lid on the jar and move to the refrigerator.

Makes 2 quarts.


Mexican Green Bean Salad

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1 lb fresh green beans, strings removed, ends snapped off, cut in half into about 1 ½ inch length pieces
¼ C onion, finely chopped
2 T lime juice
2 T olive oil
½ t sea salt
½ t dried oregano (Mexican oregano if you can get it)
¾ C packed, chopped cilantro
1/3 C pickled jalapeño chili peppers, sliced
1/3 C chopped red onion
¾ C cooked corn kernels, from one large ear
½ C crumbled feta cheese
½ avocado, sliced or cut into inch long pieces
1 medium tomato, cut into 8 wedges, or a cup of halved cherry tomatoes

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the beans and simmer until just crisp tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the beans and run cold water over them to cool them quickly. Drain completely; dry on paper towels and place in a large plastic bag. Combine lime juice, olive oil, 1/4 cup onion, sliced pickled jalapeños, sea salt, oregano and cilantro. Pour over beans and toss. Let sit for half an hour. When ready to serve, gently mix in the chopped red onion, corn and cheese. Serve the avocado slices and tomato wedges on the side or mixed into the salad. Serves 6.