Thursday, February 17, 2011

Day 37: Soupe Au Pistou, and Cottage Cheese Bread

Soupe au pistou (according to The Best Soups in the World) is a famous soup from Provence that means literally "soup with pesto", and is the French version of a Genoese style minestrone.  I was a little nervous about this soup after last night's fiasco since this recipe made a huge pot of soup, and I didn't want to waste another bunch of perfectly good vegetables.  I needn't have worried -- the soup was delicious.  The pesto is what really makes the soup.  (I used a canned pesto but didn't add the mashed small tomato.)

I was a little worried over the amount of salt and pepper called for in the recipe.  I decided to use half of what the amount and add more if needed --which it wasn't.  Oh, and I substituted a 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes for the fresh.

The bread sounded so strange I had to make it.  It's my favorite bread I've made from The Greens Cook Book.  It has a strange combination of ingredients:  dill, cottage cheese, and sauteed onions.  And it went great with the soup.

Soupe Au Pistou
The Best Soups in the World
Yield:  Serves 8

1 cup dried small white beans, soaked in water to cover for 6 hours, drained
6 quarts water
2 tbsp salt and more as needed
1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch thick pieces
3/4 pound tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped coarsely
1/2 pound boiling potatoes (such as Yukon Gold), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch dice
1/2 pound zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 leeks, white and light green part only, split lengthwise, washed well, and thinly sliced
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cut ditali or any small tubular soup macaroni
1 recipe Pesto, or 1 1/2 cups store bought pesto with the addition of 1 peeled, seeded, and mashed small tomato.

     Place the white beans in a pot and cover with 3 quarts of the water.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium, salt the water a bit, and cook until tender, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.  Drain and set the beans aside.
     Meanwhile, in a large stockpot, bring the remaining 3 quarts of water to a boil over high heat, then add the green beans, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, zucchini, leeks, thyme, and bay leaf.  Reduce the heat to medium low, then stir in the 2 tbsp salt, the pepper, and olive oil, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 15 minutes.  Add the pasta and reserved beans and continue cooking until the pasta is soft, too, about 15 minutes more.  Serve hot with the pesto passed at the table, as everyone likes to put in his or her own quantity of pesto.

Cottage Cheese-Dill Bread
The Greens Cook Book
Yield:  Makes two loaves

1 1/2 packages active dry yeast (3 1/2 tsp)
1 3/4 cups warm water
2 tbsp honey or sugar
6 1/2 to 7 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
4 tbsp corn oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/4 cup dry dill weed
1 tbsp salt
1 egg plus 1 tbsp milk or water, beaten, for egg wash

     Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large bowl; then sir in the honey or sugar and 2 1/2 cups of the flour.  Beat vigorously with a spoon to form a smooth, thick batter.  Cover and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
     While the dough is rising, heat 1 tbsp of the oil, and saute the onion until it softens; then set aside to cool.  Once the dough has risen, stir in the onion, eggs, cottage cheese, dill weed, salt, and the remaining 3 tbsp oil. Mix well.  Fold in 3 cups flour, 1/2 cup at a time, turning the bowl a quarter turn between folds, which will approximate the action of kneading.  When the dough is too thick to fold in any more flour, turn it out onto a floured surface.
     Knead the dough until the surface is smooth and satiny, about 5 to 8 minutes, adding only enough flour to keep it from sticking.  Put the dough into an oiled bowl, turn it over so that the top is coated with oil, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 40 minutes.  Punch it down, and let it rise again, about 30 minutes.
     Shape the dough into two loaves, place them in oiled pans, and let them rise to the tops of the pans, about 20 to 25 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350.  Brush the tops with the egg wash.  Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until nicely browned.  Remove the loaves from the oven and turn them out onto racks until cool.

Tomorrow night:  Skirt Steak marinated in soy, ginger, and lime with red onion toasts!


  1. I first tasted the soup without the pesto, and it was pretty good. Then I added the pesto, and it was very delicious. And the bread turned out really well. It had a different consistency than alot of other home-made breads, and it was very tasty. Ann even brushed the top of the crust with egg while it was baking, and that made the crust kind of shiny and a little bit chewy. It was a great combo with the pesto soup...

  2. mmm, looks and sounds delicious!