Soupe au pistou

This soup owes its name to the pistou paste (pesto) which is added before serving and consist of fresh basil, garlic and olive oil. In summertime when the tomatoes are good, their pulp can be added to the pistou paste. A traditional dish such as this one does not have a recipe set in stone. Each family has its own variation.

Soup

1/2 lb of beans – a mixture of pinto beans (or red kidney beans) and navy beans
1/4 lb of fresh lima beans if available
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 lb of green beans
4 onions
2 leeks
4 or 5 celery stalks
6 carrots
6 zucchinis
1 small head of green cabbage
2 or 3 potatoes (optional)
3 Tbsp of olive oil
Bouquet garni (thyme, bay leaf and parsley)
salt and pepper 
parmesan cheese

  • Follow the instructions on bean packages since some varieties of beans should be soaked overnight.  Dry beans need to be parboiled, so cook them for about 1/2 hour in 8 cups of salted water and let them soak.
  • In the meantime, string the green beans if needed, snap off ends and cut into pieces.
  • Peel and slice the leeks, the onions, the celery and the carrots.
  • Peel and dice the potatoes if you include them.
  • Dice the zucchini, unpeeled.
  • Coarsely chop the cabbage.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large pan.
  • Add the onions and the leeks.
  • Cook on medium high until golden brown (be careful not to burn).
  • Drain the beans and add them to the pot along with all the other vegetables including the fresh lima beans.
  • Add enough water to cover the vegetables.
  • Add the bouquet garni, salt and pepper.
  • Cook slowly, covered, for 1 1/2 hour or until the vegetables are tender.
  • Add the pistou to the soup and cook a few more minutes.
  • Serve immediately with some parmesan cheese.

Pistou

2 cups of fresh basil
4 to 6 garlic cloves
salt and pepper
1/2 cup of olive oil

Place garlic, basil, salt and pepper in a food processor or a mortar and blend to a smooth paste.  Slowly pour in the olive oil.  Put in a bowl and cover with a thin layer of olive oil if not used immediately.