SOUPE AU PISTOU (Pesto Soup)
Put 2 tbsp. of butter and 2 tbsp. of olive oil in a large casserole or heavy saucepan over moderate heat.
Cook the leeks until golden brown but not burn- dark and stirring often for at least 30 minutes
Add bay leaves, garlic, bouquet garni, fennel seeds, pepper and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute.
Drain the beans and add to leek mixture and add the stock and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat quickly, and simmer and partially covered, for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until beans are tender.
While the beans mixture is under simmering, cook carrots, potato, fennel bulb, and orange zest in remaining butter.
The remaining of olive oil in a large, deep skillet over moderately high heat.
Stir often, until the vegetables begin to brown, about 15 minutes.
When beans are tender (test by tasting or cutting a bean), stir diced vegetables and tomatoes into soup.
Taste for seasoning and cook soup over moderate heat for 5 minutes then discard bay leaves.
Ladle soup into bowls and serve with Parmigiano-Reggiano and pistou sauce
Serve 10 people.
This soup can be like minestrone in French style, very popular around Nice, the southeast corner of France, and it feels the influence of Italy.
With so many pleasant dishes, there are almost numerous variations, this is a deep, burnished soup that stands up beautifully to basil & garlic paste called pistou in France.
Making and preparing this soup au pistou is often served as a meal in itself.
I suggest to use unseasoned stock so that salt doesn't stop the beans from cooking properly.
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