My Mom gave me a small photo album on my 21st birthday. In each sleeve was tucked a recipe card, and every recipe reminds me of her. I’ve got Mom’s zucchini bread and her father’s braised red cabbage. She also included her Soup au Pistou. Pistou – which translates to “pounded” – is a French version of Italian pesto without the pine nuts.
With the addition of hard cheese and fresh tomato, pistou is stirred into this Provençal vegetable soup. It’s a perfect way to enjoy the last of the season’s zucchini and green beans. It’s rich with vegetable stock and hearty with the addition of pasta and white beans*.
The card in my book attributes the recipe to my Godmother, Aunt Ali, and to her sister-in-law, my Aunt Barb. Mom has made a few changes of her own, and now so have I.
But I still use broken spaghetti for the pasta. It reminds me of Mom, and that makes it taste better.
*I try and avoid typically over-salted canned beans in favor of soaking and cooking my own. This, however takes time and planning, so the “optional” beans are usually left out.
Soup Au Pistou
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 leek, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 medium potato, diced
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 2 whole ribs celery
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs each thyme and parsley
- 4 cups sliced summer squash
- 2 cups green beans in 1” pieces
- 1 cup small pasta, like elbows or broken spaghetti
- 2 cups cooked Cannelloni or Great Northern beans
- 1-1 1/2 cups pistou sauce (see below)
- Sherry vinegar
- In a 4 qt soup pot, over medium heat, heat olive oil.
- Sauté leeks for five minutes, add garlic, carrots and potato. Cook covered for 3-5 minutes.
- Add stock, celery, bay and herbs. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until vegetables can be easily pierced with a fork.
- Remove celery, bay and herbs. Add squash, green beans, white beans and pasta. Cook for 15 minutes until pasta is al dente.
- Stir through pistou sauce or serve on the side and allow your guests to add their own.
- Season to taste with salt, pepper, Sherry vinegar and butter, if needed, for richness.
Chive Pistou Sauce
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 cup basil leaves, not packed
- 1 cup shredded Parmesan
- 1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
- 1/2 cup Chive oil*
- Pound garlic, with a pinch of coarse salt, into a paste.
- Add basil and pound into garlic.
- Add Parmesan 1/4 cup at a time and pound into a thick paste.
- Add enough tomato to make a thick sauce.
- Stir in oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.