Sunday, June 26, 2011

Soupe au Pistou

This fresh vegetable soup from Provence features Pistou which is a lighter version of pesto, since it does not contain any nuts. Try to have all the vegetables diced and sliced about the same size, which makes for a nice presentation. Of course, you can vary the vegetables according to what’s available. I use canned beans because I find pre soaking and cooking dried beans not worth the effort and often leads to uneven cooking. (you may also replace the pistouwith store bought pesto and it could be just as good...

2 cups (300g) canned white beans (Cannellini or Navy)
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 medium carrots peeled and diced
2 medium zucchini diced
½ pound green beans (tips removed and cut up)
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced or thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sea salt/ freshly ground pepper
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup dried pasta (orzo, vermicelli, or tiny shells)

For the Pistou:
1 large clove of garlic, peeled, generous pinch of salt
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small tomato; peeled, seeded, and diced
2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated

In a Dutch oven or large stockpot, heat the olive oil.
Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent. Add the thyme, diced carrots, zucchini, green beans, drained beans garlic, and salt. Season with pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are completely cooked. Add the drained  beans then the peas and pasta, plus 2 quarts water. Bring the soup to a boil, and simmer a few minutes until the pasta is cooked. While the soup is cooking, make the pistou. In a food processor, place the garlic, salt, basil leaves and cheese. Mix. Add the tomato and remix.

To serve 
Ladle hot soup into bowls and add a generous spoonful of pistou to the center and swirl gently. Serve extra pistou on the side for those who wish to add. 

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