Parker’s Summer Vegetable Soup au Pistou

By September 8, 2015

The recipe for this classic Provençal soup is a bit up to improvisation: it's not a recipe of measured ingredients, cooking times and special tools. It is simply a way of combining the bounty of summer vegetables and herbs in a way that will make even a humble potato or a slice of stale bread a perfect partner with sweet basil and fruity olive oil. The ingredients listed taste wonderful together, but feel free to make substitutions as needed (broccoli, shredded cabbage, or peeled and diced kohlrabi are all good too.)
We recommend that the pistou-- a southern French version of a pesto-- should be passed in a small bowl on the table and each person can stir some into their own bowl of soup.

For the Soup
 2 potatoes, small-medium diced
 1/3 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
 1 zucchini, medium dice
 Handful green beans (top and tailed, cut into 3rds)
 1 large carrot, medium dice
 1/2 onion, diced
 3 leaves collard greens (or other green, like kale, spinach or swiss chard), thick stems removed and sliced into ribbons
 5 cups water
 Splash vinegar (rice, white wine, champagne, or apple cider)
For the Pistou
 4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and mashed
 4 tbsp tomato paste
 10-12 large leaves of fresh basil, more if you prefer
 1/4 – ½ cup good olive oil
1

First make sure all your veggies are washed and cut into roughly the same size. In a large soup pot, pour in 6 cups of salted water and your potatoes. Bring to a boil, and cook until halfway done (check after 10 minutes and again at 15. Don't overcook.) Add the cauliflower in for the last minute or two. Drain and reserve the water (pour into a colander resting on another bowl to save it.)

2

Meanwhile, make the pistou. In a food processor, add in the mashed garlic, the tomato paste, the basil and a large pinch of salt. Pulse a few times, and then turn on to low and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Process till smooth. Taste to adjust seasoning. Place in a small serving bowl with a spoon for passing.

3

In the now empty soup pot, add a little bit of olive oil or butter and turn on medium heat. Add back in the onions and the carrot, and stir to soften just 1 minute, and then the zucchini for an additional 2 minutes. Add in the potatoes, the cauliflower, the greens and the green beans and salt and pepper, and allow to soften up together just a few minutes, 3-5 more, adding a tsp of salt to the veggies and splash of vinegar to help deglaze any brown spots on the bottom of the pot.

4

Pour the potato cooking water back into the veggies and bring up to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and taste the veggies to make sure they are all well cooked-- you still want to have a little bite to them. You are probably already done cooking at this point-- don't overcook or you'll have a bowl full of mush.

5

Ladle the soup out into individual bowls, and pass the pistou around. Everyone can stir in one large spoonful of the pistou into their own bowl (or more or less to taste.) Store any leftovers separately or mixed together in the fridge.

Ingredients

For the Soup
 2 potatoes, small-medium diced
 1/3 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
 1 zucchini, medium dice
 Handful green beans (top and tailed, cut into 3rds)
 1 large carrot, medium dice
 1/2 onion, diced
 3 leaves collard greens (or other green, like kale, spinach or swiss chard), thick stems removed and sliced into ribbons
 5 cups water
 Splash vinegar (rice, white wine, champagne, or apple cider)
For the Pistou
 4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and mashed
 4 tbsp tomato paste
 10-12 large leaves of fresh basil, more if you prefer
 1/4 – ½ cup good olive oil

Directions

1

First make sure all your veggies are washed and cut into roughly the same size. In a large soup pot, pour in 6 cups of salted water and your potatoes. Bring to a boil, and cook until halfway done (check after 10 minutes and again at 15. Don't overcook.) Add the cauliflower in for the last minute or two. Drain and reserve the water (pour into a colander resting on another bowl to save it.)

2

Meanwhile, make the pistou. In a food processor, add in the mashed garlic, the tomato paste, the basil and a large pinch of salt. Pulse a few times, and then turn on to low and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Process till smooth. Taste to adjust seasoning. Place in a small serving bowl with a spoon for passing.

3

In the now empty soup pot, add a little bit of olive oil or butter and turn on medium heat. Add back in the onions and the carrot, and stir to soften just 1 minute, and then the zucchini for an additional 2 minutes. Add in the potatoes, the cauliflower, the greens and the green beans and salt and pepper, and allow to soften up together just a few minutes, 3-5 more, adding a tsp of salt to the veggies and splash of vinegar to help deglaze any brown spots on the bottom of the pot.

4

Pour the potato cooking water back into the veggies and bring up to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and taste the veggies to make sure they are all well cooked-- you still want to have a little bite to them. You are probably already done cooking at this point-- don't overcook or you'll have a bowl full of mush.

5

Ladle the soup out into individual bowls, and pass the pistou around. Everyone can stir in one large spoonful of the pistou into their own bowl (or more or less to taste.) Store any leftovers separately or mixed together in the fridge.

Parker’s Summer Vegetable Soup au Pistou

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