Summer’s winding to a close and we’ve gotten our last delivery of garden veggies for the year. And quite a delivery it was. The fridge is quite literally overflowing with zucchini, peppers and tomatoes, and the melons don’t even have a chance. What to do when you have so many veggies? Well, make soup, duh.
This French vegetable soup (soupe au pistou) is exactly what you need when you have more veggies than you know what to do with. It’s another recipe where anything goes, so use whatever you happen to have in your fridge. What distinguishes it from just any other vegetable soup is the pistou. And so what the heck is pistou, you ask? Well, you know pesto, right? Basically the same but without the pine nuts and quite a bit more oil. When serving the soup, put a dollop of pistou on top and stir it through. Suddenly your humble vegetable soup has been transformed into a fragrant bowl of goodness bursting with the flavours of summer.
A lot of versions of this recipe call for water as a base, but for me it’s essential to start with a really good vegetable stock to inject a bit more flavour and highlight the fresh vegetables. But let’s be real, who has time to make their own stock these days? I usually use the kind in the carton for most recipes, but I wouldn’t recommend that for this recipe, it would be overwhelming. Fortunately, I had enough veggies to go ahead and make my own this time, but another option is this recipe from Cooks Illustrated that my mother swears by which consists of grinding vegetables into a paste which can be frozen and used as needed.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 leek, sliced
- 2 medium carrots, sliced
- 1 celery stalk, sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 cups high-quality vegetable stock
- 3 cups water
- 3/4 cup short pasta (I used a small variety of macaroni)
- 225 grams (8 oz) green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 jar (425 grams / 15 ounces) white beans or kidney beans, unrinsed to add body to the soup
- 1 zucchini, seeded and chopped
- 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon miso paste (optional)
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the leek, carrots, celery and a pinch of salt and allow to cook slowly until soft, about 10 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds more. Pour in the vegetable stock and water and bring to a simmer. Add in the pasta and green beans and simmer for about 5 minutes. Finally, add in the white beans, tomatoes and zucchini and simmer until the pasta is cooked and the vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper.
- While the soup is cooking, prepare the pistou by blitzing all the ingredients in a food processor. Serve the pistou alongside the soup and allow each person to put a dollop of it on top of their bowls.