Last weekend I had two full days off in a row for the first time in over two months. I scarcely knew what to do with the extra time, so I pulled down Mastering the Art of French Cooking for answers. Now, I'm no Julie Powell, but Julia Child has become a sort of idol of mine. Especially since reading her memoir, My Life in France. I always love reading books about food, but this one was something else. It was joyous. It was all about discovery, experimentation. With her insistence that all recipes be perfectly replicable, she made cooking something more akin to baking, my first love. I have also discovered by using her cookbook that if you do what she tells you it will be delicious. They don't just work, they're spectacular.
Anyway, Saturday morning Boyfriend and I went to the Farmer's Market to load up on ingredients and treats. We sipped fresh lemonade (I should say guzzled) while we picked up broccoli, carrots, leeks, lettuce, cucumber, turnip, fresh herbs, blueberry jam, homemade bread and cupcakes.
Sunday morning (after a decidedly ordinary 12k run) we got to work making Soupe au Pistou. Apparently a traditional soup in Provence, which I enjoyed because I've recently finished reading Four Queens detailing the history of the 4 daughters of the Count of Provence who all became queens, despite their relatively humble origins. It was especially fascinating because only two actually married Kings. Marguerite married one of the Louis and Eleanor married Henry V of England. The other two married men who were able to acquire Kingdoms, largely through the machinations of the Provencal family. But I digress.
We started by boiling new potatoes, carrots and leaks with a bit of salt for 40 minutes. Then we added green beans from my own little garden (so fresh they were picked after the soup had been started) Kidney beans, broken spaghetti, breadcrumbs, pepper and and let that boil for 20 minutes. Meanwhile we made the pistou, a paste of tomato paste, Parmesan, garlic and basil (this looked kind of gross but smelled amazing) and then stirred in olive oil. Then we varied from JC a bit. I'm sorry, we didn't have two soup tureens (actually, we didn't have one, we borrowed it from Roommate). We added a cup of the soup broth to the pistou, then transferred all that back into the soup, stirred it in and served it. It smelled amazing, and the taste was something else. So flavourful and satisfying. Not creamy, but thick enough to feel substantial. The vegetables were tender but not too soft. Everything was simply tasty. Boyfriend had balked at the $9 for a tiny bottle of saffron but we decided that it was well worth it, especially because we have a lot left for more soup. Not that we'll need it anytime soon. Boyfriend and I had our fill (with homemade whole wheat bread for dipping yum) and Roommate had had a bowl as well, I was able to bring a litre to my parents and put a litre in the freezer for some warm comfort on an upcoming winter's day.