Thursday, March 4, 2010

4.Soup au Pistou - Force-Fed

Once upon a time, a friend came to visit my home and brought along a gift...a plate of just-baked cookies. I sampled one cookie while my friend looked on...it tasted terrible. The polite me, somehow ate the whole cookie and smiled while doing it. After my friend left, and after I dumped the rest of the cookies in the trash, I said to myself, "Why should I have to to eat things I don't like?"

As I thought more about it, I realized that I had, at one time or another, been forced to eat food that I did not care for. As a child, for example, I had always loathed the taste and texture of creamed corn, but had been required to eat it. Brussels sprouts were also a bitter disappointment to my taste buds, but they were part of our Thanksgiving dinner and eating them was not optional. Tapioca pudding, sometimes passed off as a family mealtime dessert, made me cringe with its creepy texture...but, I swallowed it anyway in order to not disappoint my mother.

And so, after that cookie-dumping-day I decided that, as a mature adult,  I would never again eat anything I did not want to eat. I might serve food to my family that they liked and I didn't, but the line had been drawn...I would no longer be force-fed...or so I thought.

Not long after I took this defiant stand, two friends decided to host a spingtime luncheon. I was happy to have been invited to be part of the group and looked forward to spending a lovely afternoon with them. When we were all seated, I noticed two large tureens of soup next to homemade bread and fresh salad. A lot of work had gone into this meal and I was impressed. Each hostess had made her own special soup and I could hardly wait to taste what they had lovingly prepared.

I ladled some of the soup which was closest to me into my bowl and tasted the first spoonful. I could hardly speak....it was beyond wonderful. I took another sip and decided I had just tasted one great soup! I told the cook how much I loved her creation, and as I savored the last drop, I knew I had to have another bowlful. I was, however, seated next to the second cook and felt more than obligated to taste her offering.

 As I held the spoonful of soup number two in my mouth, I did not know what to do. As wonderful as the first soup was, this one was the opposite. The flavor was so awful, I did not want to swallow because I was actually afraid of what my body would do with it. So there I sat, unable to swallow or speak while everyone else around me chatted and enjoyed themselves. Finally, I choked the mouthful down, but my thoughts were churning. I looked around and decided that I could not dump the bowlful in a nearby plant nor could I take it out to the kitchen and pour it down the drain; and I certainly could not accidentally spill the whole thing on the floor.There was no way to get rid of this bowl of soup without hurting the cook's feelings. On the other hand, if I said I was no longer hungry, I wouldn't be able  to have a second helping of the first soup. And so, I was forced to eat that horrible soup...spoonful by horrid spoonful. It was worse than eating creamed corn with Brussels sprouts on top of tapioca pudding!

The moral of this story is that I actually did get to have that second helping of the soup I had wanted, but only because I moved the line I had drawn and learned that there are times even adults have to eat something they don’t like!

Soup au Pistou is the name of the recipe for the soup I enjoyed so much. It is a hearty, garlic-lover's delight. I make it once a year and love it all over again. It is even better the second day.



Soup au Pistou

2 (15.8 oz) cans great northern beans – set aside; do not drain

In large soup pot, simmer the following vegetables in 2 qts. water until vegetables are tender:

1 C diced carrots
1 C diced potatoes
1 ½ C diced zucchini
½ C diced green pepper
1 C diced onion
½ C chopped celery and leaves

Add:



1 C crumbled stale bread        (partially dry out slices on a rack)
½ C spaghetti, broken             *see note below
2 pinches saffron threads         (I don't know what this does for this robust soup...so, I say it is optional)
½ tsp pepper
Add northern beans with liquid. Simmer until pasta is just tender.
*I use about (3) 1-inch diameter bunches of linguini broken into thirds as I like more pasta with thicker consistency.
Pistou:
Mix 8 cloves crushed garlic, 1(8oz) can  tomato paste, fresh chopped or dried crumbled basil to taste.
Whisk in 2/3 C extra virgin olive oil slowly.

Just before serving, dribble several ladlefuls of hot soup into pistou, stir constantly. Gradually add mixture back to the rest of soup and stir well. Top with fresh, chopped parsley (optional). Makes at least 12 cups.

Side dish suggestion: This soup calls for a hearty, tender bread as an accompaniment. Try making your own. Tomorrow's blog will feature the perfect choice...Danish Potato Bread.

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