Soupe au pistou

In light of D feeling a little under the weather today, I opted to try a soup recipe based on the ingredients I had available. I was originally going to try some variation of chicken noodle, but Julia Child’s Provençal vegetable soup with garlic and basil looked intriguing. Pistou, related to the Italian pesto, is a cold sauce of garlic, fresh basil and olive oil. This soup is traditionally made with seasonal summer vegetables and white beans.


adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Makes 6 cups

3 cups water
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 tbsp salt
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced red onion
1 cup diced potatoes
1/2 cup green beans
2 large brown mushrooms, halved
1/3 cup broken spaghetti
1 slice stale white bread, crumbled
1/8 tsp pepper
4 cloves mashed garlic
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/8 cup chopped fresh basil
1/8 cup olive oil
1 chicken breast, chopped
2 tbsp lard

In a large pot, melt lard and brown chicken. Remove and set aside. Add carrots, potatoes, mushrooms and onions and saute for a few minutes before adding water, stock and salt. Boil slowly for 40 minutes. Twenty minutes before serving, add green beans, chicken, spaghetti, bread and pepper. Boil slowly for 15 minutes or until beans are cooked through. Correct seasoning.

While soup is cooking, preparing the following pistou: place garlic, tomato paste and basil in a bowl and blend to a paste. Then, drop by drop, beat in the olive oil. When soup is ready for serving, beat a cup into the pistou. Pour that pistou mixture into the soup.


A few notes on preparation: normally I post the original recipe and list here any deviations; however, there were quite a few deviations this time, so the recipe I’ve posted is our adapted one. For instance, this soup traditionally calls for white (or kidney) beans, but we didn’t have any. We also took the liberty of adding chicken (which sort of dispenses with it being a strictly vegetable soup), but David wanted the extra sustenance.

Soups are quite nice to make…you can chop everything up in advance, just add everything in and let it simmer for an hour. I appreciate its simplicity of execution. In the end, D declared that it healed him right up and tasted delicious. He noted that it would’ve been nice to have a touch more basil (we only had three or four leaves left to chop up). It was much like a rich broth, with a hint of garlic and a very pretty colour from the tomato paste. We’ll definitely make it again (even when D’s not a little ill)!

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