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Vegetable Pistou

Pistou is the French word for pesto, a sumptuous paste of basil, nuts, garlic, olive oil and aged cheese. It's also the namesake of the classic Provencal soup that has pesto as its essential ingredient. This pesto uses toasted hazelnuts and no cheese. To save time, prepare the pesto while the soup simmers.

Dairyless Hazelnut Pesto:
1 1/2 cups rinsed, packed fresh basil leaves
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/3 cup whole hazelnuts, toasted, see note
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup cut green beans or yellow wax beans (about 1/4 pound)
1 cup diced potatoes (unpeeled, if you prefer)
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 cup peeled and chopped carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
3 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 cups water or vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup quartered and sliced zucchini
1/2 cup stelline (little pasta stars) or baby shells (about 1/4 pound)
1 1/2 cups drained, cooked navy beans, cannellini or cranberry beans

Note: Toast a single layer of hazelnuts on an ungreased tray for about 10 minutes at 325 degrees, until lightly browned and fragrant. Rub nuts briskly with a clean towel to remove most of the skins. If using a blender rather than a food processor to make the pesto, coarsely chop the toasted hazelnuts.

Combine all pesto ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Set aside.

In a large soup pot, combine the green or yellow beans, potatoes, onions, carrots, celery, bay leaves, marjoram, garlic, salt, pepper and water or stock. Cover and bring to a boil; then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, zucchini and pasta, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add the navy beans, cover and very gently simmer for 5 to 20 minutes, until the pasta is al dente and all the vegetables are tender. Remove and discard the bay leaves.

Stir the pesto into the soup and serve. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 327 calories; 10.5 grams protein;12.9 grams fat; 45.4 grams carbohydrates; 0 mg cholesterol; 828 mg sodium; 3.7 grams dietary fiber.

"Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special"

Thursday, April 06, 2000

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