One of our on going projects here at Feed Me…I’m Hungry is our ‘World Food Tour’ where we take time to find out more about culture and food from around the world by exploring recipes, cookbooks, memoirs and more. Right now we’re enjoying the fine food of France.
Weather in Colorado is tricky. We have a saying here, “If you don’t like the weather wait an hour.” There is a lot of truth to this saying. In Colorado it can be -5* one day and 57* the next. Because of these wild weather mood swings it can be difficult to tell when a new season has really begun. I’m writing this on February 13th and it is in fact 57* today. Earlier in the week it was actually below 0*. I don’t know that spring is really here. In fact most likely it will snow again soon. But whatever the weather throws at us tomorrow it certainly feels like the beginning of spring today.
Today was my older son’s Valentines day party at preschool. The parents of the preschoolers were invited to come in early before the end of class to join the party. My younger son and I arrived on the scene to find my oldest happy as a clam, chatting away with friends, a plate of frosted goodies in front of him, and a giant pink frosting smear all across his mouth. Nestled in between all the sugar laden goodies on the plate was one lone clementine orange. (At least one parent wisely tried to bring a healthy treat for the party! Not me unfortunately #momFail.) My younger son seeing the plate of goodies immediately began to insistantly yell “Eezze! Eezze!” (That’s please! Please! In little one speak.) My big one, who is actually incredibly kind to his little brother offered to share his cookies and cupcakes. I sagely decided, in hopes of avoiding two wild sugar children, to give the little one some of the clementine.
The clementine was clearly sweet, sweet, sweet because it was gone in 10 seconds flat. Ah sweet clementines, the fruit of spring if you ask me.
Our next stop after the party was Sprouts (which always has the best prices on fruits and veggies) for a bag of clementines for our house. Much to my delight asparagus was only 98 cents/lb.! Now I’m not known as the healthiest eater on the planet but spring and summer fruits and veggies get me on the right track. I adore all that fresh produce. My youngest recognizing the clementines politely demanded more fruit, “Eeze!”
We paid, stepped outside and got in the car. And then just sat, with the door open, enjoying the sun and the light breeze. Me pealing oranges and the boys shoveling them in. Warmth, fresh air, a break from the oppression of the below zero weather. Happy children with juice dripping down their chins and sticky little fingers. It was one of those times when no matter what else is going wrong, everything just feels ok. Spring bliss. A moment with your kids you just have to savor.
My little one ate 6? Or possibly 8? oranges, and handful of grape tomatoes…I’m hoping this means that his six week boycott of vegetables is officially over.
Later on, Riding the spring wave (and having a grocery bag full of fresh veggies) I decided Soupe Au Pistou was just the thing to make for dinner. This soup is France’s version of spring. And an extremely beloved dish. Festivles revolve around this soup my friends. No seriously I’m not joking. Check out Ann Mah’s Mastering the art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris. She has a chapter on Soupe Au Pistou and the very serious preparation involved in preparing the dish for it’s annual festival.
Fresh spring vegetables. Potatoes. Pasta. What is essentially pesto: olive oil, parmesan cheese, and basil… that combo is going to make some festival worthy soup right here!
Another major plus is that this one is easy. A lot of return for mostly chopping and tossing things in a pot. So give this one a try and cross your fingers that the snow stays away!
- A splash of olive oil
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 1 cup pealed and cubed potatoes (I used russet)
- 1 large white or yellow onion diced
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 2 large zucchini cut into bite sized pieces
- 16 oz can of cannellini beans (or other white bean)
- 1 cup fresh or frozen cut green beans
- 1/4 lb. (generally 1/4 of a box) of any shape pasta
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 3 tablespoons of tomato paste or puree
- 1/8 cup fresh basil chopped or 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- water as needed to keep a soup consistency
- 1. Heat a medium sized stock pot to medium high heat. Add a generous splash of olive oil, carrots, potatoes, and onion. Sauté lightly until onions begin to soften.
- 2. Add the broth and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. You may need to add water or additional broth at this point to maintain a soup constancy.
- 3. Add the zucchini, cannellini beans, green beans, and pasta. Bring the heat up to achieve a gentle boil. Boil gently for about 15 minutes or until the green beans are cooked through and the pasta is al dente. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. Again, you may need to add water or additional broth at this point to maintain a soup constancy.
- 4. Add the garlic, tomato paste, basil, pepper, and parmesan to the pot. Stir well to combine. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- 5. Serve hot. Garnish with additional parmesan.
- Substitute or add any spring vegetable you like! Peas, leeks, or bell peppers work well.