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Soupe au Pistou

Feel free to mix and match fresh garden vegetables in Soupe au Pistou, a traditional rustic vegetable soup from the South of France. The one must is the basil pistou spooned into each bowl just before eating. The basil mixture (similar to pesto but without the pine nuts) transforms this simple soup into a heavenly slurp of summer. While some variations include the grated cheese in the pistou, I find it balls up in the hot soup, so I sprinkle it on as a garnish.

Ingredients

Soup

  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 cups good chicken or vegetable stock
  • 4 fingerling potatoes, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled (optional) and diced
  • 2 tomatoes, blanched and skinned
  • 1 8 ounce canned cannellini beans, drained
  • 20 green beans (approximately), ends snapped and broken into bite-sized pieces.
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 small summer squash, diced
  • Salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste
     

Pistou

  • 1 medium garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 ounces fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

Preparation

In a heavy soup pot sauté garlic and onion in olive oil just until onions are clear. Add stock, potatoes, carrots and tomatoes (break up the tomatoes when they are in the pot using a heavy spoon). Simmer covered just until potatoes and carrots are barely soft, about 30 minutes.

While the soup is cooking, place pistou ingredients in a food processor and mix until fine. Grate the cheese.

Just before serving add the cannellini, green beans and thyme, and simmer 2 minutes, then add the zucchini and summer squash and simmer 2 more minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.