French Foods: Provençal Vegetable Soup (Soupe Au Pistou)
This satisfying soup captures all the flavours of a summer in Provence. The basil and garlic purée, pistou, gives it extra colour and a wonderful aroma – so don’t omit it. #Cook’s Tip# Both the pistou and the soup can be made one or two days in advance and chilled. To serve, reheat gently, stirring occasionally.
- 10 oz-1½ cups (275 g) fresh broad beans, shelled, or 175 g/6 oz/3⁄4 cup dried haricot beans, soaked overnight
- 2.5 ml/½ tsp dried herbes de Provence
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 small or 1 large leek, finely sliced
- 1 celery stick, finely sliced
- 2 carrots, finely diced
- 2 small potatoes, finely diced
- 4 oz (120 g) French beans
- 2 pints-5 cups (1.2 litres) water
- 4 oz-1 cup (120 g) shelled garden peas, fresh or frozen
- 2 small courgettes, finely chopped
- 3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
- Handful of spinach leaves, cut into thin ribbons
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Sprigs of fresh basil, to garnish
- #For the Pistou#
- 1 or 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ½ oz-½ cup (15 g) (packed) basil leaves
- 4 tbsp (60ml) grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 tbsp (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
- To make the pistou, put the garlic, basil and Parmesan cheese in a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides once. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil through the feed tube. Or, alternatively, pound the garlic, basil and cheese in a mortar and pestle and stir in the oil.
- To make the soup, if using dried haricot beans, place them in a saucepan and cover with water. Boil vigorously for 10 minutes and drain. Place the par-boiled beans, or fresh beans if using, in a saucepan with the herbes de Provence and one of the garlic cloves. Add water to cover by 2.5cm/1in. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer over a medium-low heat until tender, about 10 minutes for fresh beans and about 1 hour for dried beans. Set aside in the cooking liquid.
- In a large saucepan or flameproof casserole heat the oil. Add the onion and leeks, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion just softens.
- Add the celery, carrots and the other garlic clove and cook, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring.
- Add the potatoes, French beans and water, then season lightly with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, skimming any foam that rises to the surface, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
- Add the courgettes, tomatoes and peas together with the reserved beans and their cooking liquid and simmer for 25—30 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender. Add the spinach and simmer for 5 minutes. Season the soup and swirl a spoonful of pistou into each bowl. Garnish with basil and serve.