Hearty Vegetable Soup with a Basil-Garlic Dressing (Pistou Soup)

It’s definitely full on Spring in my lovely town of Houston.

Though, some days it feels like summer.  Hot, hot, hot. And by hot I mean 84 which isn’t really very hot. Only just PERFECT.

For me, this means its time to start digging in the soil, and roaming around the plant nursery in search for really wonderful FLOWERS.

Not leaves.

I’m no horticulturist.

I don’t love all types of plants. Well in theory, I love all plants. Maybe.  But if I’m truthful, the petalish ones have the upper hand. Basically, if they DON’T have flowers or they DON’T go in your mouth, then . . .really. . . .I’m not all that interested.

What really makes me wet me pants is Flowers and plants that you can turn into food. That’s it.

 If they can do double duty, well then. . . .geez. . . .I’m all hot and bothered.

So this week, Ive been planting a little bit of both.

You know, roses, begonias, PETUNIAS, PERIWINKLES, lots and lots of tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs, peppers and SQUASH!!!!

My knees are getting weak, just thinking about it.

And the best part is, this whole fascination with planting completely feeds my need for instant gratification. 

Look, I already have peppers.

And little teeny tiny cucumbers.  Even if you don’t like cucumbers, you have to admit they’re so cute when their tiny like this.

Not to mention that the very minute you plant herbs you can start harvesting them and feeling very Pioneer like.  Living off the land. Foraging for your food.  Making do with what you have. . . .and whatever you can find at the grocery store.

Like Basil.

And Chives.

And Oregano. That for the life of me, I’m not trying to kill.  But somehow keep accidently digging up. And then freaking out. and then replanting.  And its still alive and thriving.  Here’s a picture of it after my husband tilled it up with his crazy wayward man tiller.

Why?
Who the heck knows.

And finally mint. The addition of it makes me scared.

Because everyone says it grows mad crazy.

It can not be contained.

But I tried. By planting it in a container in the soil.  I’m really hoping it won’t hop out and run amuck.  But I can’t imagine my garden another year without it. 

And I really want to make Raspberry Lemon Shaved Ice with Mint.

From my garden. Not the store, because then it’ll seem fancier. And because, I’m sure this culinary delight will make my children hug me until eyeballs shoot right out of my head.

So, I’m risking it.

Two weeks ago it looked like this.

Today it looks like this.

Next week, may be a little scary.

My dreams expand the scope of which my humble garden now reigns.  One day it shall include trees a bloom with FIGS, Peaches, and maybe something exotic like GUAVA, or mango.  I hadn’t worked that out yet.  Mainly because I haven’t told my husband yet.

He may pass out in his PJs.

He’s more partial to run of the mill produce. Apples. Grapes.  and if he’s really having a wild day, he’ll eat an orange. 

Gotta love those bland taste buds of his.

I also haven’t really told him about something that I snuck in the back corner. That he has told me a mazillion times is not a good idea to grow.  Because it just keeps growing, and growing, and growing, and taking over the yard until your children are swinging on vines in the back yard with red, juicy faces.

I planted watermelon.

But only because I thought it might be kinda fun to see my children lost in a jungle abyss of watermelon vines and red, juicy faces. So, I’ll let you know how that turns out.

That’s what I’ve done so far.  Despite my horrible tendency to itch, and scratch in all this allergy haze. And despite my recent bout with STREP. Ick.

But, I love this time of year.  And no matter how sickly, I’m going to get my nails dirty.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – —  — – – – – – – – –

I think I do this every year without thinking.

Whenever, the spring growing season starts, I channel my inner garden woman.

She’s about 72, with really great wrinkly hands.  And they’re golden, kissed from the sun.  Her nails have a little bit of earth beneath them.

She wears this really great Mu’umu’u (moo moo) with blue flowers all over it, and fantabulous pea green garden shoes.  Sometimes if its hot outside she wraps her head in a scarf. It’s white, with tiny red and pink flowers on it.

And the best part.

She always, ALWAYS smells like soup and fresh baked CIABATTA bread.

Yeah that’s me. The me I wanna be.  The best part of me, that lurks somewhere under all my stressed out loony bins.

She makes me believe that everything I want is possible.  That my garden will grow, and flourish, and my body will remain strong.

She makes this soup from her garden.  And her grand kids gobble it up.

Hearty Vegetable Soup with a Basil-Garlic Dressing (Pistou Soup)
( A Sure Sign of the warmer months to come. A traditional French soup from the region of Provence. This soup is very similar to minestrone.  Pistou is a close cousin to the wider known Pesto.  It just doesn’t have any pine nuts.  Use the store bought version, Pesto, to make this dish even easier.)

Ingredients:

2 TB olive oil
2 cups onions, chopped
1 Sprig of thyme
1 tsp oregano or Herbs de Provence, dried
6 cloves, garlic, diced (use half for the soup, and half for the pistou)
3 carrots, diced
2 cups zuccinni, chopped*
2 cups green beans, chopped
2 large potatoes (about 1 pound), diced into bite size pieces
2 – 15 oz. cans of  your favorite beans, drained and rinsed ( I used 1 can Northern Beans and 1 can Pinto Beans)
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 TB tomato paste
1 1/2 Quarts of Water
1 cup small pasta

*Frozen green beans and zuccinni work well.

For Pistou:


2 garlic cloves (use remaining garlic from above)
Salt
1 cups of basil, loosely packed
¼ cup of olive oil


Directions:

1.In a large pot, heat oil on medium high heat.  Add onion and cook until translucent, 3-5 minutes.
2. While the onions are cooking chop up your vegetables.
3. Once the onions are translucent add thyme, oregano, bay leaves, and 1/2 of the chopped garlic.  Cook one minute longer.
4.  Add zuccinni, green beans, potatoes, and beans. Stir. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and water. Bring to boil. Salt to taste and cook for about 45 minutes.
5. Add pasta. Cook 5 minutes longer.  Serve with Pistou.

Directions for Pistou:

1. In a food processor or blender, garlic, salt, and basil and blend.

2. Add oil, and blend until it forms a paste. Salt to taste.
3. Use as a garnish on the soup.

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