Tuesday, April 21, 2009
soup au pistou
According to one Thomas Stearns Eliot, "April is the cruelest month." I believe way back in February I declared him wrong. February is, indeed, the bleakest month of the too-long winter.
Now, April is not so much cruel as it is a major tease. Flirting with sunshine and ascending temperatures, only to smack us down with cold rain turning to snow. ON APRIL 21.
And so, it seemed time to cook another pot of soup to dispel the returning cold. But the old soups of winter--the chili, the heavy vegetable soups, the thick and creamy bean soups--already seem a thing of the past. Flipping through the latest issue of Gourmet, I was intrigued by the soup au pistou, a recipe I've seen before, in various incarnations. This was it, my soup for the big April tease.
I drove to Festival Foods in hopes of finding some greens, which are a key component of this soup, and which are shamefully not available at Copps where I usually shop. I had been scared away from this newest grocery store way back in October, when my Mom, who was visiting for the weekend, and I went to check out the new store. This is what we do for fun in small-town Midwesternland. The store was packed with gawkers, and it was nearly impossible to assess the offerings through the throngs of people, all clad in green and gold, because it was also a big Packer game weekend. It was all a little too much. I was scared and scarred, and it took me six months to return.
Score! Festival stocks swiss chard! I came home and made the soup, with a few variations and additions, and am enjoying it as the temperature begins to creep upwards again. It's rather like a spring minestrone, except the French make their spring vegetable soup shine with a variation of pesto that you swirl into the hot soup, creating a luxurious, silky fragrance.