Provençale Soup with Pistou
Classic recipe from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. One, a wonderful vegetable dish that is perfect for warmer weather- Soupe au Pistou. Served with warm crusty bread and a rosé from Provence, the match harmonizes beautifully. Early summer is the Mediterranean season for soupe au pistou, when fresh basil, fresh white beans, and broad mange-tout beans are all suddenly available. The pistou itself, like the Italian pesto, is a sauce made of garlic, basil, tomato and cheese, and is just as good on spaghetti as it is in this rich vegetable soup. Other vegetables in season may be added with the green beans as you wish, such as peas, diced zucchini, and green or red bell peppers.
Ingredients for about 6 people
- 3 quarts water or stock
- 2 cups diced carrots
- 2 cups diced potatoes
- 2 cups diced white of leek or onions
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 can fresh cannelini beans
- 2 cups diced french green beans
- ⅓ cup broken spaghetti or vermicelli
- 1 slice stale white bread, crumbled
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- 1 pinch saffron
- 4 cloves garlic
- 6 tablespoons fresh tomato puree or 4 Tbs tomato paste
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil (or 2 Tbs dried)
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ⅓ cup fruity olive oil
- drizzle of olive oil
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- fresh cracked pepper
- Either boil the water, vegetables, and salt slowly in a 6-quart kettle for 40 minutes; or pressure-cook for 5 minutes, release pressure, and simmer uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes. Correct seasoning
- Twenty minutes before serving, so the green vegetables will retain their freshness, add the beans, spaghetti or vermicelli, bread and seasonings to the boiling soup. Boil slowly for about 15 minutes, or until the green beans are just cooked through. Correct seasoning again.
- Prepare the following pistou while the soup is cooking.
- Place the garlic, tomato purée or paste, basil, and cheese in the soup tureen and blend to a paste with a wooden spoon; then drop by drop, beat in the olive oil. Or puree all in food processor.
- When the soup is ready for serving, beat a cup gradually into the pistou. Pour in the rest of the soup.
- Serve with hot French bread, or hard-toasted bread rounds basted with olive oil (garlic croutons).