I had every intention of posting a recipe from my Halloween party. Really, I did. While there were several quite tasty and (I like to think) sophisticated appetizers, such as Chrissy’s Pomegranate and Honey Brie, and Cecelia’s Endive Spears with Goat Cheese, Pears and Candied Pecans, not to mention the almighty Ina’s Rosemary Cashews (my personal favorite) from her fantastic book Barefoot in Paris , my main dish, a Chicken and Apple Chili, fell flat. My guests raved (thanks guys!), but I was unsatisfied. Something was missing. Maybe my pallet’s changed, but I remembered it being better. At least my table was really pretty. Vous ne trouvez pas?
A good time was had by all, of course, and I don’t think anybody but me was bothered by the lack of a usable blog recipe to call my own.
However, Sunday was beautiful, and after several hours of yard work, I found myself staring into the fridge at a plastic bag full of late season tomatoes, green beans and some truly gigantic parsley–all from my dear dad’s organic garden. Apparently, our unseasonably warm fall combined with regular rain showers have conspired to provide an unusual-for-late-October abundance of produce. I finally decided to just dump it all in a pot and call it soup. Or pistou, rather. It was truly spectacular, I dare say, not at all resembling the slightly bland autumnal chili of the previous night. What I think made this soup pop, and this is the pistou bit, was topping it with a Tarragon-Parsley Pesto. Ok fine, pistou, pesto, purists can argue about the differences if they want, but when you mix any kind of pesto into soup, to me that’s pistou. I’m not claiming expertise here- just try the soup. It’s delicious!
1 roasted, bone-in chicken breast
6 garden tomatoes, peeled and chopped (and in my case, fungus removed-yuck!)
1 cup stringed beans, cut in half
2 small zucchini, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
1 can small white beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
For the chicken:
First, preheat oven to 350° and season the chicken breast with a drizzle of olive oil and some coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Place on a cookie sheet lined with foil and roast for about 35-40 minutes. It can come out of the oven a tad undone since it will continue to cook in the soup. Once done, remove from oven and allow to cool. Shred with a fork or tear with your fingers into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
To peel the tomatoes:
Using a sharp paring knife, make a small crosshatch mark in the bottom of each tomato and place in a saucepan of boiling water for about 10-15 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and you will see that the peels come right off!
For the soup:
While the chicken is roasting, heat the 2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium in a Dutch oven. Add the onions and garlic and season with salt, pepper and the crushed red pepper. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes or until translucent but not charred. Turn down the heat if necessary. Next, add the green beans and zucchini and allow to cook for another couple of minutes, or until the beans just begin to soften but are still bright green. Add the white wine and allow to reduce by half. Add the drained beans and the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the roasted chicken bits, turn down the heat and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes. At this point you can make the pesto.
For the pesto:
1/2 cup tarragon leaves, torn
1/2 cup parsley leaves, torn
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 medium garlic clove, smashed
the zest of one lemon and juice of half
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan
Place all ingredients, except for the olive oil and parmesan in a food processor and process in several short bursts. Stream in the olive oil and process until just combined. Remove to a dish and fold in the parmesan cheese. I always eyeball this bit, adding as much cheese as it needs to make a thick paste (because that’s how I like it!).
Serve with a couple spoonfuls of parmesan, a dollop of pesto and some crusty bread.
Not surprisingly, this soup is even better the next day. It was all I could do to stop my eyes from rolling back in my head in a fit of food ecstasy at lunch Monday. Good thing, because any shenanigans, even of the food-related variety, would have only added to the already drama-filled week at that particular high school in Southeastern Michigan. Let’s just say we’re ready for November.