Friday, October 7, 2011

Vegetable Soup w/Tarragon Pistou

Cold weather is on it's way!  It's time for soups, stews and all things that bring comfort ( and calories)!  While I am looking forward to a lazy day (or just few hours) of cooking hearty stews  along with big hefty loaves of warm bread, I don't welcome the extra calories that go along with those favorites.

Somehow, I never lost my winter pelt from last season. Sadly, I have to face the fact that I can no longer rely on my super-charged-hyper-activity to keep my weight in check as I maintain a butter and cream supply that would make Ms. Paula Dean envious.  I have to make some changes, and I am not really doing so gracefully.  Change is good, I know, but life with less butter just seams scary.

So, in the spirit of making a few healthy tweaks in my recipes, I thought I'd offer a very basic vegetable soup recipe with an-over-the-top punch of flavor from one of my favorite herbs.  Tarragon.  Luckily, it grows rather well in our climate, and when made into a Pistou ( a cold french sauce made of herbs, garlic and olive oil),  it delivers a high concentration of extraordinary flavor.

veg soup w/tarragon pistou

 We made this soup last week at one of my cooking demonstrations and it was a huge hit. The big flavor comes from a combination of fresh tarragon, parsley, garlic and olive oil. It's a refreshing departure from the usual basil pesto, and it does not contain any extra calories from nuts or parmesan cheese.  As with many of the recipes you will find on this blog, the recipe is merely a suggestion.  Personally, I feel the Pistou could, and should be used the way you would use salt, or any condiment.  It's a flavor enhancer. Think of making a cilantro-parsley mix for been soups, a parsley-sage mix for turkey noodle soup, a cilantro-mint-basil for asian soups, ....I can keep going, but you get the idea.. The star really is the Pistou, as it can take a humble vegetable soup and elevate it to "I could lick the bowl" status.   I hope you will give this one a try!

           French Vegetable Soup w/Tarragon Pistou

2 Tablespoons Olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 stalks Celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled & diced
2 parsnips, peeled & diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large red skinned potatoes, scrubbed & diced
1 bouquet garni (2 bay leaves, 6 peppercorns, 6 stems of parsley, 4 stems thyme)
1 quart Vegetable stock
1 quart water
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup fresh green beans, chopped
1 can garbonzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups kale, stems & spine removed, chopped.
Salt & pepper to taste.

Heat a 5-quart pot over medium heat, then add olive oil, onion, celery, carrots, garlic and parsnips and sweat vegetables for 10 minutes.  You want them to gently release their liquid, and not to have any discernible coloring ( no browning). Next, add potatoes, herbs, veg stock, water and tomatoes to pot and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Once potatoes are tender add beans, green beans and kale, then simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes. Remove bay leaves, parsley & thyme stems and season with salt and pepper.  

To serve: Ladle soup into warm bowls and top with 1Tablespoon Pistou and serve with crusty french bread.

Tarragon Pistou

1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 tarragon leaves, no stem
3/4 cup parsley leaves
1/2 extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all ingredients into a small food processor and process for 3 minutes. Be sure to scrape down the sides.  Taste Pistou, and adjust the salt, and add more tarragon for a stronger flavor, or more parsley for a milder flavor.  Store any unused Pistou in a covered container, topped with a thin layer of olive oil.  It will last a week in the refrigerator, or 1 month in the freezer. 

Take a look at these great soups from previous posts: 

**  Savory Butternut Squash Soup w/smoked paprika seeds

** Colorado Onion Sage Soup - ( my last class voted this the BEST french onion soup they'd ever's all about slowly, slowly, slowly caramelizing your onions.. perfect for a cold fall day)!


Chef Deb Traylor

I also have info on upcoming cooking classes and demo's at Mountain High Appliance in Louisville,

Includes: Salted Caramel Sauce, Homemade Cellos (lemon and others),  fruit compotes, etc..

Cost:  $20 per class
Advance registration required by contacting Barbara at
303-951-0524 or

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