Comfort food in a world of chaos and uncertainty is what many of us home cooks create to ease the tensions of daily life. Few foods are more comforting than soups. The ease of preparation and ingredients, the simple cooking methods…these are things we can control when there is so much going on around us that we cannot.
My version of the classic French “Soup au Pistou” is one of my comfort foods on these November days when darkness comes early and there is a chill in the air and in a small place in my heart.
Pistou is somewhat like pesto but without pine nuts. Just a blend of fresh basil leaves, garlic and olive oil all smashed together either in a mortar and pestle, or as I did in a food processor. Pistou is a sauce or condiment from the Provence region of France and you will find it simple and easy to make.
Do you ever add the rinds of Parmesan cheese to your pot when making hearty soups? Try it if you have not. It is a good way to use those flavorful rinds and will make your finished soup even more delicious.
I love cornbread so these crispy “Black Pepper-Thyme Cornbread Sticks” are good to serve with this soup. Baked in a sheet pan and then cut into sticks make them great “dippers”.
Eat well. Be kind to yourself and others.
Cannellini Bean-Vegetable Soup with Pistou and Black Pepper Cornbread Sticks
Ingredients for Soup:
- Splash of olive oil
- 2 anchovy fillets
- 2 leeks thinly sliced, white and pale green parts
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 1 zucchini squash, sliced & cut into half moons
- 1 yellow squash, sliced and cut into half moons
- 6 cups chicken broth
- one piece of Parmesan rind
- 2 cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Ingredients for Cornbread Sticks:
- 1 package of your favorite yellow corn bread mix (I use Bob’s Red Mill) + ingredients called for on package directions)
- 1 Tbsp cracked black pepper
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried)
Ingredients for Pistou:
- 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- 2 garlic cloves smashed
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
- For Soup: Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat & add the anchovies. Use a wooden spoon to stir and cook until the anchovies break up and dissolve.
- Toss leeks and celery into the pan. Saute for 10 minutes or until vegetables soften and begin to brown. Add a pinch of sea salt & freshly ground black pepper.
- Add zucchini and yellow squash, chicken broth and Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Add beans to pan, stir and turn heat to lowest setting to keep hot while you make cornbread and pistou.
- For Cornbread: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix cornbread mix according to package directions adding the cracked black pepper, Parmesan and thyme leaves to the batter. Spread batter into a rimmed baking sheet sprayed with vegetable oil spray. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove pan from oven to cool on a wire rack.
- For Pistou: Put basil leaves and garlic cloves in a food processor and pulse a few times. Drizzle in olive oil just until mixture is a pesto-like consistency. I like a less oily pistou. If you prefer more oil then continue adding until it is to your liking.
- To: Serve. Cut cornbread into “sticks”. Ladle soup into bowls and add a dollop of the pistou to stir into the soup. Serve remaining pistou on the side. Enjoy.
Teresa Blackburn www.teresablackburnfoodstying.com www.foodonfifth.com