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THE VEGETARIAN

Dressing Up Broth With French Flair

February 08, 1990|DIANA SHAW | Shaw is a free-lance writer in Los Angeles

One of the great treats in the south of France is soup flavored with a robust paste or a mayonnaise-type dressing. The flavoring pastes are either offered on the side or swirled into the soup just before serving. Here, a fairly mild vegetable broth gets a tasty jolt from a paste of tomatoes, basil and garlic. If you're pressed for time, use the paste to liven up canned commercial soup.

VEGETABLE SOUP

3 quarts water

1 1/2 carrots, peeled and diced

2 small potatoes, diced

1 1/2 cups leeks, white part only, diced

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup cooked white navy or lima beans

1 cup green peas

Dash saffron

Dash red pepper flakes

Tomato-Basil Paste

Croutons or Melba toast

Bring water to boil in large kettle. Add carrots, potatoes, leeks and salt. Cover and simmer 1 hour.

Add beans, peas, saffron and pepper flakes to soup. Let simmer, covered, 15 minutes more. Stir 1 cup of hot soup into Tomato-Basil Paste, then pour mixture into soup pot. Stir well. Serve with croutons. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Tomato-Basil Paste

2 large cloves garlic

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons minced fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Mash garlic in mixing bowl. Add tomato paste, Parmesan cheese and basil, stirring well to blend. Stir in olive oil, 1 tablespoon at time, until well incorporated. Makes about 1/4 cup.

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