I’m Pistou’d and I Can’t Take It Anymore- Recipe for Pistou Soup

We’re into our second week of March here in DC; temperatures have creeped into the high 60’s the last few days and the only remnants of back-to-back blizzards are the few gray patches of snow on the south side of the street. But while the days may be getting longer and warmer, we’re still weeks away from spring asparagus, beets, rhubarb and the like.

I was looking for a recipe to make a dent in the winter larder when the thought of a pistou soup sounded good — basil suggests that spring’s around the corner while the rest of the ingredients make good use of all those root vegetables and tins of staple ingredients.

Pistou Soup 
(from Jamie [Oliver] Magazine Recipe Yearbook)

Pistou Soup

Meal type Celery, Chick Peas, Tomatoes
Season Fall, Spring, Winter


1 Heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in large saucepan over a medium heat and sauté 1 onion, 3 sliced leeks and 3 cloves of garlic for 5 minutes.
2 Add whatever other vegetable you’ve got on hand; here are mine: 3 diced potatoes, 3 diced carrots, 2 bay leaves, 1 diced celery stalk, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley. Feel free to add zucchini, green beans, squash, etc.
3 Add whatever canned pulses you have: cannellinis, kidneys, borlottis, navy, pigeon, what have you. Tonight, I’m using chick peas.
4 Add a tin of chopped tomatoes, cover with water, add salt and pepper; simmer the lot until the vegetables are tender (replenish with water to keep soup soupy and not stewy).
5 If you have a bit of macaroni on hand (I’m using orecchiette) add toward the end (so it doesn’t overcook in the broth).
6 To make a pistou: in a mortar and pestle (or absent that, a blender or Cuisinart) combine 5 garlic cloves, a small handful of basil and sea salt; pound until puréed. Stir in 5 tablespoons of parmesan (or pecorino) and 3 tablespoons olive oil to make a paste. Serve the soup with a dollop of pistou.


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