SOUPE AU PISTOU (about 5 quarts)
“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. Feel free to add any other herbs when sautéing the vegetables. If you wish to use canned beans, use 2 cups, drained, or for a real treat, use 2 cups of fresh cooked shelling beans.” David Lebovitz
For the soup:
1 cup dried beans
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and dices, or 3 leeks, cleaned and sliced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 medium zucchini, diced
8 ounces green beans, tips removed and cut crosswise into quarters
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced or thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sea salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup dried pasta (any small variety will do, such as orzo, vermicelli, elbows or shells)
For the pistou (1 cup, can be increased proportionally):
1 large clove garlic, peeled
a pinch of salt
2 cups gently packed fresh basil leaves
¼ cup olive oil
1 small tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
1-1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
- Rinse and sort the beans. Soak the beans overnight covered in cold water.
- The next day, drain the beans and put them into a large saucepan with the bay leaves and about 1-1/2 quarts of water (enough water to cover the beans). Cook the beans for about 40 minutes, or until tender, adding more water if necessary to keep them immersed. Once cooked, remove the beans from the heat and set aside.
- In a Dutch oven or large stockpot, heat the olive oil.
- Add the onions or leeks and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for five minutes, or until they are becoming soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more, then add the thyme and cook for 1 more minute.
- Add the diced carrots, zucchini, green beans and salt. Season with pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are nearly done, about 12 minutes. Add the cooked beans and their liquid plus 2 quarts of water and bring the soup to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until nearly al dente (timing will depend on the pasta you have chosen, check packaging for instructions) then add the peas. Simmer a minute or two until the pasta and peas are cooked.
- While the soup is cooking, make the pistou.
- Pound the garlic to a paste in a mortar and paste (or use a food processor) with a generous pinch of salt.
- Coarsely chop the basil leaves and pound them into the garlic until the mixture is relatively smooth.
- Drizzle in the olive oil slowly, while pounding, then pound in the tomato and cheese. Taste and season with more salt if desired.
- To serve, ladle hot soup int0 bowls and add a generous spoonful of pistou to the center and swirl gently. Keep extra pistou within reach because you’ll likely want to add more to the soup as you go.
NOTE: If the soup is too thick, thin it with additional water. If not planning on serving the soup right away, keep the cooked pasta separate and add only what’s needed for each serving. If left in the soup for a long period, it will continue to swell up and become overly soft.
adapted from David Lebovitz