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Hearty Provençal Soup

Quite unusual, I think, combining many foods associated with Provence, but not ordinarily in a soup. Mixed into a fairly standard vegetable soup are black olives--and make sure they're of the best quality--as well as a paste of anchovies and mint. Excellent! It's perfect for lunch, with crusty bread on the side. Serve hot to 4-6 people as a light meal.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven, then toss in the bacon pieces, onion, and garlic. Sauté for about 3 minutes over medium heat, then add the peppers, zucchini, beans, olives, anchovy paste, and mint. Stir well, reduce the heat, and cook on low for 10 more minutes. Add the tomatoes and potatoes and cook 10 more minutes, stirring from time to time. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil, then cook on medium heat for 10 minutes--season to taste with salt and pepper, and let simmer for another 10 minutes.

When ready to serve, check one more time for seasoning. Ladle into big bowls and serve immediately.