This is a slightly lighter version of a traditional Provencal combination: vegetable soup enriched with pistou. Pistou–a pounded, pesto-like sauce of nuts, olive oil, garlic and basil–is unique to the Mediterranean region of France, since tender basil grows well only in temperate climates. It adds both body and an intense, herbaceous flavor to soups and stews. Simmering the soup with a selection of herbs known as bouquet garni intensifies the flavor. To make a bouquet garni, place 1 bay leaf, 4 sprigs parsley and 2 sprigs thyme in a small square of cheesecloth and tie securely. Then drop it into the soup pot. Discard bundle before serving the soup.
- 1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 1/2 lbs. new potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 lb. carrots, cut on the diagonal into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 bouquet garni (see headnote)
- Pinch of saffron threads, crushed (optional)
- 1/2 lb. green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 lb. zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 cup uncooked macaroni shells
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 cups lightly packed fresh basil or flat-leaf parsley
- 1 small tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
- In large soup pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add potatoes, carrots and celery and cook, stirring, about 5 minutes. Add 8 cups water, bouquet garni and saffron if using. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.
- Add green beans and continue to cook until vegetables are almost tender, about 25 minutes. Add zucchini and macaroni and simmer until pasta is tender, an additional 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, stir in parsley and drizzle with remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil. Remove from heat, cover and keep warm.
- Make pistou: In small skillet, toast hazelnuts over medium-high heat, stirring often, 5 minutes. While nuts are still warm, place in folded tea towel and rub vigorously to remove skins. Transfer nuts to food processor, add garlic and process until finely chopped. Add basil or parsley and tomato and process, scraping down work bowl as necessary, until mixture forms a smooth paste. (Add water to thin as necessary.) Transfer to small bowl, add salt and pepper and stir in 1/2 tablespoon oil. Ladle soup into shallow soup bowls or transfer to serving dish. Stir in pistou or pass separately for guests to stir in desired amount themselves.
- Serving Size: Serves 6
- Calories: 336
- Carbohydrate Content: 52 g
- Fat Content: 12 g
- Fiber Content: 9 g
- Protein Content: 8 g
- Saturated Fat Content: 1 g
- Sodium Content: 62 mg