Friday, August 30, 2013

"The Too Hot To Cook Book" by Miriam Ungerer - Garden Soup with Pistou (French "pesto")

Date I made this recipe:  August 25, 2013

The Too Hot to Cook Book by Miriam Ungerer
Published by:  Walker and Company
© 1966
Recipe:  Garden Soup with Pistou (a French variation of pesto) – p. 42-43

I just purchased this cookbook from Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks in NYC and not a moment too soon as Minnesota is experiencing scorching temperatures.  But here’s what is so typical and annoying:  the minute Labor Day rolls around, we are projected, once again, to go from high 90’s to 72 degrees overnight.  This is just so damned unfair, especially this year when summer arrived late and warmer temperatures took a while to roll around.  I know I stand alone when I say that this heat can last well…indefinitely!  I hate winter, I hate being cold, and am not too fond of 72 degrees, no matter how refreshing that “cold” temperature appears to the rest of you.

But hey, although I may enjoy hotter temperatures, I am not crazy enough to turn on my oven during this hot spell and thanks to our author, Miriam Ungerer, I don’t have to!  And yet don’t ask me why, but out of all the recipes that appealed (and that would be most of this book), the hot soup recipe caught my eye.  I’ve been on sort of a veggie kick since last week’s vegetable fried rice recipe and since I had some leftover veggies, why not?

This recipe, which serves 10 which of course is way too much for our little household, is adaptable to whatever vegetables you have on hand and so I threw in some diced baby corn from last week and some celery from last week and some leftover mushrooms from last week (and even some leftover rice from last week – how convenient) and then left out a few vegetables that I don’t like as well, namely lima beans and okra.  The most time-consuming task is chopping said vegetables but once you get past that, you are golden.  Cooking time for most of the vegetables is 30 minutes, after which you throw in your faster-cooking vegetables for another 15 minutes, add in a few more minutes to make the pistou and in about an hour total, you have dinner. 

You should know that all the flavor of this dish comes from the pistou as no other “spices” are added to the soup itself other than salt.  I think if I made this again I’d play around with adding some spices to ramp up the flavor just a bit.  And you should also know that while I made only half the soup recipe, I made the full pistou recipe and well, let’s just hope you like garlic because it contains 4 cloves. 

I am pleased to announce that despite the high heat this weekend (96 or 97 I think), I stayed cool in my kitchen and even cool eating this dish.  And that’s what you need when it’s “Too Hot to Cook”!
Garden Soup – Serves 10

From the author:  Unlike a rich, slow simmered winter soup, hearty and filling with turnips and cabbage, a summer blend should be lightly cooked and each vegetable retain its freshness, flavor and texture.  Prescribing exactly what to put in a vegetable soup would be a bit like a numbered canvas that the artist could never claim as his own.  This is a rough outline to fill in with your own design.  This serves 10 to 12 as a main course.

2 quarts water
2 cups baby carrots, sliced
2 cups new potatoes, diced
2 cups peeled ripe tomatoes, diced
2 cups scallions, sliced
1 cup fresh green lima beans
1 cup fresh tiny green beans, cut in 1-inch lengths
1 cup fresh okra, sliced
1 cup fresh corn, scraped off the cob
1 ½ cups cooked rice

4 cloves garlic
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
2 Tb fresh parsley, chopped
3 Tb tomato paste
½ cup grated Romano cheese
½ cup olive oil

In a mortar, pound the garlic to a paste with the basil and parsley; add the tomato paste and cheese.  Beat in the oil by droplets, then beat in 1 cup of hot soup.  Pour the sauce into a small bowl and pass it around with the soup.

No comments: