I was first introduced to Mademoiselle J in Dancing with the Moon, the second book in this magical series.I traveled back in time and journeyed through the pages with her in The Secrets of Pistoulet~ a charming little book filled with food, magic, and love. . .
“There is magic and mystery in the farmhouse known as Pistoulet. Here in southwestern France, Mademoiselle J. discovers the ancient recipes that transform the guests who come to Pistoulet weary and lacking in spirit.”
The magical recipes are designed to feed the soul and cure the maladies of the guests who pass through Pistoulet. I decided to blend some Potage of Passion, despite the word of caution:
“Facial flush may occur due to extreme ecstasy. Guests often fall in love with the cook. Serve with discretion!”
“Go the market and find a farmer with a twinkle in his eye. Buy a large quantity of big ripe tomatoes.”
I was a couple of weeks premature of tomato season and finding afarmer with a twinkle in his eye at our Farmers Market, so I opted for some tomatoes in the can for my potage.
Potage of Passion, aka Tomato Basil Soup~
Recipe adapted from Madame Claude, Monsieur André and Vie du Sud aka Southern Living :)
2 medium onions, chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 (28-oz.) cans Italian-style whole peeled tomatoes with basil
1 (32-oz.) container of chicken broth
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper
My magic ingredient~ 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Sauté onions in 2 Tbsp. hot oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat 9 to 10 minutes or until tender. Add tomatoes and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes. Process mixture with a handheld blender until smooth.
Process basil, next 4 ingredients, 1/4 cup water, and remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Stir basil mixture, sugar, and pepper into soup. Add grated Parmesan. Cook 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
In addition to grated Parmesan, I added Celestial Croutons, known to enhance the magical properties of any potage.
Best when prepared under the falling stars. . .
Day-old bread from the most soulful bakers
The most fragrant herbs~ Rosemary, thyme, and oregano from a sun-flooded patch
Aromatic garlic and the best olive oil
Cut bread into appealing shapes, such as stars, hearts, and crescent moons. Sauté garlic in olive oil. Add bread shapes, stirring occasionally. Add fresh herbs and sea salt. Mix thoroughly.
Caution: Magic Enhancer
Sunflower bowls, napkins, quilt/ Pottery Barn, last year
Chargers & flatware/ World Market
Urn/Pottery Barn, several years ago
Rooster/ Hobby Lobby, several years ago
“Everyone who passes through Pistoulet has a story which unfolds. All who spend time there leave with their hearts and minds transformed.”
“Originally published in 1996, this 15th anniversary edition of The Secrets of Pistoulet tells the gentle tale of the healing power of magical soups and foods, while celebrating the redemptive and sustaining nature of shared meals among friends and family. With fold-out letters, removable recipe cards and pockets, and special vellum pages, The Secrets of Pistoulet quickly became a bestselling gift book. There’s no better time to rediscover its magic.”