Yah, I know, it’s been hot and humid. It’s summer, after all; it’s to be expected. And yah, I know, I posted a Soupe au Pistou recipe already. This blog is over a year old, after all; it’s bound to repeat some recipes.
But you shouldn’t squabble, really. Not over Soupe au Pistou. Even in hot weather. It really is a perfect summer vegetable soup. Especially if you have a garden, and it’s starting to give you a few vegetables.
Maybe a zucchini.
Maybe a few tomatoes.
Maybe some basil.
All can go into a pot of summer vegetable soup, like Soupe au Pistou, a Provençal vegetable soup which seems to only have one rule to make it a Soupe au Pistou. And that is to add pistou to it. Pistou is just like pesto, without the nuts. It adds so much flavor to the soup that you’ll soon start adding it to other soups as well, making all your soups au pistou. Seriously.
Anyway, you don’t need to own a garden to make the soup. It is the best excuse to drag your computer-games junkie children to a day-excursion at the farmer’s market and load up on vegetables. But you don’t need an excuse to make Soupe au Pistou, either. Didn’t I tell you it’s the perfect summer vegetable soup? You certainly need neither an excuse nor a garden to cook such a soup.
Vegetarian Soupe au Pistou
First, make the vegetable stock, recipe below. It’s worth the trouble. You can make it the night before. The stock seems to improve overnight.
For the soup
8-9 cups vegetable stock or water
1 onion, chopped
1 plum tomato, peeled and seeded, diced
2 garlic bulbs, minced
2 carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 leek (white part only), cut into halves, then sliced
1 zucchini, diced
1 cup puy lentils, or other kinds of beans
1 cup orzo pasta
Salt & pepper
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1. Cut vegetables into uniform pieces. Set aside.
2. Rinse puy lentils, then place in a saucepan with water to cover. Boil for 15 minutes, then drain. Lentils will still be slightly hard by now. Puy lentils are tiny. If you’re using bigger-sized beans, adjust your cooking time.
3. In a large soup pot, on medium-high heat, sauté vegetables except for the zucchini, in olive oil, starting with onion, garlic and leek. When onion is translucent and golden, add carrots, celery, tomato, and cook until vegetables are wilted. This is an optional step, but recommended, since sautéing the vegetables beforehand does improve the soup’s flavor.
4. Add vegetable stock and bring the soup to a boil.
5. Add the drained lentils and orzo pasta. Stir to avoid pasta from clumping.
6. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, or until pasta and lentils are completely cooked. Add chopped chives.
7. Add salt and pepper, as needed.
8. Served with a spoonful pistou.
For the pistou
1 garlic clove
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small tomato, chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1. In a food processor, grind garlic, basil, tomato, and olive oil. It doesn’t have to be smooth. A few chunks remaining is perfectly fine.
2. Add cheese, pulse for a few more seconds.
3. Alternately, you can use a mortar and pestle to make the pistou.
1 large onion
2 large carrots
5 garlic cloves
1 leek, including the green part
1 celery stalk
1 bay leaf
2-3 sprigs of thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
10 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1. Pre-heat oven to 375° F.
2. Wash leek carefully, making sure that sand and dirt caught between layers are rinsed off.
3. Cut all vegetables into 2-inch pieces. Crush garlic cloves.
4. Toss vegetables with olive oil. Transfer to a roasting pan.
5. Place pan in the oven and roast vegetables for 45-60 minutes, stirring once or twice, until brown and tender. Take care not to burn the garlic.
6. Transfer roasted vegetables to a large stock pot, add water, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
7. Cover pot and continue to simmer for about 30-45 minutes.
8. Strain stock. This yields about 8 cups of stock.