This vegetable pistou may not look like much, but I assure you, it is so flavorful. I needed a soup to bring to our school for a teacher luncheon that was completely vegetarian for Lent. I wanted to make something a little different and was having a hard time coming up with something. I asked my sister and without hesitation she recommended that I make this vegetable pistou soup from one of her favorite cookbooks, Country Cooking of France by Anne Willan. This book is gorgeous and will soon be on my book shelf. I am so glad that I took her advice because this soup was so delicious.
Pistou is the french equivalent of pesto. You add pistou to the bottom of the bowl and ladle the soup on top. You stir it together and it gives the soup a freshness that makes this soup really something special. Vegetable pistou is a french peasant soup, so use what you have in your fridge. I am sure that french grandmothers didn’t really measure how many green beans went into their soup, or didn’t make it because they didn’t have enough zucchini. Serve this soup with some crunchy french bread and you have a perfect spring meal.
I was making this soup for 20 people so the pictures do not match the quantities in the recipe.
1 leek, cleaned and thinly sliced 2 diced carrots 1 large onion 2 potatoes 3 zucchini diced 2 cups green beans chopped 2 cans diced tomatoes 2 can cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed a handful of flat leaf parsley a handful of fresh thyme a handful of fresh rosemary 2 quarts water 1 cup frozen peas 1/2 box ditalini pasta salt and pepper
4 ounces fresh basil 6 cloves garlic 1/4 cup pine nuts 1 cup Parmesan 3/4 cup olive oil salt and pepper
I prepped all of my vegetables the night before. I put it all in the bowl and covered it with Stretch-Tite. I needed to serve it fairly early in the day and did not want to risk not having enough time, so I got every ready to go the night before. I probably could have made it the day before but didn’t want to risk having mealy potatoes or mush beans.
Make a bouquet garni with a piece of cheesecloth. Wrap the parsley, rosemary, and thyme in the cheesecloth and tie it.
Put the leek, carrots, onion, potatoes, zucchini, green beans, beans, bouquet garni and tomatoes in a very large pot.
Cover with 2 quarts of cold water.
Bring the soup to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the frozen peas and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the pasta and cook for another 10 minutes or until the pasta is cooked through. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
To make the pistou, add the basil, garlic, and pine nuts to a food processor. Season with salt and pepper. Go easy on the salt because the cheese is salty. Pulse until it breaks down.
Add the Parmesan cheese. Pulse a few times.
Pour the olive oil through the funnel as the food processor is running.
Check for seasoning. Put the pistou in a container and set aside until you are ready to serve the soup.
To serve the soup, put a generous amount of pistou in the bottom of the soup bowl.
Pour the soup over the pistou and garnish with a little Parmesan cheese. I like to put a little drop of pistou on top as well for a little color. Serve with some crunchy french bread.