Monday, September 05, 2005

Who let that chicken in here?

Yes, I know. Soupe au pistou is one of the world's great vegetarian dishes. I feel a little bit of ex-vegetarian guilt as I write this.

But after making last night's dinner, I had a chicken carcass with lots of beautiful meat left on it, so the only thing to do was make a stock. Add that to a couple of handfuls of fresh basil and a lot of vegetables, and you get something just like this. It is very good indeed, and (as the commercials used to say) it eats like a meal.

6 c. homemade chicken stock with pieces of chicken in it
1 c. fresh or frozen crowder peas (or creamy shell beans of your choice)
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 small boiling potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 or 2 yellow crookneck squash, chopped into 1-inch pieces
white and pale green parts of 2 green onions, chopped
a couple handfuls of broken spaghetti
small pinch of saffron
salt and pepper to taste
2 large handfuls fresh basil leaves
2 to 3 cloves garlic
2 Tbs. olive oil
good sea salt and freshly ground pepper
shredded Parmesan or hard goat cheese

In a stockpot, bring the stock to a simmer and add the crowder peas. Simmer until the peas are tender but still firm.
In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbs. olive oil and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until it takes on a little color. Then add the tomatoes and cook over medium heat until they collapse. Add the onion-tomato mixture to the stockpot.
Add the potatoes, squash, and green onions. Cook until the potatoes are tender.
Add the spaghetti and seasonings. Cook until the spaghetti is al dente.
While the soup is cooking, make the pistou. Whirl the basil and garlic in a food processor a few times. Add 2 Tbs. olive oil and sea salt to taste, and process until it forms a chunky paste.
Serve the soup with a sprinkle of cheese and a dollop of pistou. Crusty bread is an excellent accompaniment.