Soupe au Pistou (Provençal Vegetable Soup with Pistou)

Adapted from Saveur, Issue #140

Serves 8 to 10

This can easily be made vegetarian by omitting the pancetta

Ingredients

FOR THE PISTOU:

  • 4 cups packed basil
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 plum tomato, cored

FOR THE SOUP:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 oz. pancetta (or bacon), minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1/4 head Savoy cabbage, cored and thinly shredded
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 7 whole, peeled canned tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/3 cup broken dried spaghetti
  • 2 15-oz. can cannelini beans
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Make the pistou: Process basil, parmesan, oil, salt, garlic, and tomato in a food processor until finely ground. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Heat oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; add pancetta and cook, stirring often, until fat has rendered, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, carrots, celery, and onions, reduce heat to medium; cook, covered and stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, 12–15 minutes. Add zucchini and cabbage; cook, covered, until wilted, 3–5 minutes. Add stock, tomatoes, bay and red pepper flakes, and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Mash half the beans with a fork; add to soup along with whole beans—cook until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls; serve with pistou dolloped on top.

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