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Light but rich ... French vegetable bouillon.

Long, slow simmering gives this lean vegetable bouillon its rich, satisfying flavor. The last-minute addition of colorful vegetables cut into slivers creates a stunning appearance as well.

Although it takes hours to concentrate the flavors, the simmering process itself requires almost no supervision. At the end, you strain the bouillon and, if desired, clarify it to make it transparent. The bouillon can be made several days in advance, then reheated to serve.

This elegant first-course soup was inspired from one created by Chef Marc Meneau at L'Esperance in Saint-Peresous-Vezelay, France.

French Vegetable Bouillon

2 medium-size leeks (about 1 lb.)

4 large carrots, peeled

2 medium-size zucchini (about 1 lb)

3/4 pound green beans, ends trimmed

1 large tomato

2 1/2 quarts regular-strength chicken broth or water

3 large stalks celery, cut into thirds

1 cup celery leaves

1 large onion, quartered

3/4 cup parsley sprigs

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon each dry thyme leaves and black peppercorns

1/3 cup fresh shelled peas (1/4 lb. in pod)

Trim and discard root ends and tough, dark green tops from leeks. Thinly slice enough of the white part of leek crosswise to make 1/4 cup; gently rinse and reserve for poaching later. Slice remaining leeks lengthwise and rinse thoroughly.

Slice carrots and zucchini into 2-inch chunks; cut 1 chunk of each into match-stick -size pieces and reserve for poaching later. Cut 10 of the green beans in half and then lengthwise into thin slivers; set aside. Cut 2 thin outer slices with peel from tomato; cut each in half and then into triangles and set aside. If not serving bouillon same day, cover and chill reserved cut vegetables for up to 3 days.

In a 6-to 8-quart pan over high heat, combine broth with remaining leeks, carrots, zucchini, beans, tomato, celery and leaves, onion, parsley, bay leaf, thyme, and peppercorns; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer gently for 4 hours; stir occasionally.

Line a colander with 2 or 3 thicknesses of dampened cheesescloth (you need pieces large enough to hang over sides); place colander over a wide 4- to 5- quart pan.

Pour bouillon through cheesescloth and, using the back of a large spoon, push vegetables against sides of colander, extracting as much liquid as possible. As bouillon cools, draw together corners of cheesecloth and twist tightly to squeeze out even more liquid; discard vegetables and remove colander from pan. At this point, you can cover and chill soup for up to 3 days.

If desired, clarify bouillon (directions follow). If not, return bouillon to boiling. Reduce heat to low and add resersved leek, carrot, zucchini, beans, tomato, and peas. Cover and simmer gently until vegetables are barely tender when pierced, about 3 minutes. Ladle into bowls. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

To clarify bouillon. Beat 4 large egg whites until foamy. Bring bouillon to a boil, then whip egg whites into boiling liquid. Return to a full boil; remove from heat and let stand until slightly cooled.

Meanwhile, line a colander with 2 or 3 thickness of dampened cheesecloth (you need pieces large enough to hang over sides); place colander over a wide 4- to 5- quart pan. Pour bouillon slowly through cheesecloth. Draw together corners of liquid as possible; discard whites. For exceptionally clear bouillon, repeat steps once more.
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes recipes
Date:Sep 1, 1987
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