I love the flavors in this classic French country soup: the hint of licorice in the fennel and the nip of paprika is nicely balanced by the pleasing blandness of the potatoes and beans.
Two-Bean Soup with Pistou
- Large (approx. 5 quart) slow cooker required
- 1 tbsp olive oil 15 mL
- 3 onions, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 bulb fennel, trimmed and sliced
- 1 tsp fennel seeds, toasted 5 mL
- 1 can (28 oz/796 mL) diced tomatoes, including juice
- 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock 1.5 L
- 2 potatoes, peeled and shredded
- 4 cups cooked white beans 1 L
- 2 cups frozen sliced green beans 500 mL
- 2 tsp paprika dissolved in 1 tbsp (15 mL) water 10 mL
- Sea salt, optional
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves 250 mL
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1⁄2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese 125 mL
- 1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil 60 mL
- 1. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and fennel bulb and cook, stirring, until vegetables are softened, about 7 minutes. Add toasted fennel seeds and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juice and bring to a boil. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware.
- 2. Add stock, potatoes, white beans and green beans. Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours or on High for 3 hours, until vegetables are tender. Stir in paprika solution and season to taste with salt, if using, and pepper. Cover and cook on High for 20 minutes.
- 3. Pistou: In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine basil, garlic and Parmesan. Process until smooth. Slowly add olive oil down the feeder tube until integrated. Ladle soup into bowls and top each serving with a dollop of pistou.
- Adding the green beans while they are still frozen ensures that they will not be mushy when the soup has finished cooking. If you prefer to use fresh green beans, cut them into 2-inch (5 cm) lengths and cook them in a pot of boiling salted water for 4 minutes, until tender crisp. Add them to the slow cooker after stirring in the paprika.
- To toast fennel seeds: Place in a dry skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring, until seeds are fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a mortar or a spice grinder and grind.
Judith Finlayson http://judithfinlayson.com/