Soupe au Pistou {recipe} – Refreshingly Hot and Steamy

Soupe au Pistou
When summer has finally hit its peak and the temperature outside is, you know, hot, I suppose I should eat a salad.

Or at least something that doesn’t require cooking.

And at the very least something cold. Chilled. Leftover roast chicken straight out of the refrigerator, I suppose.

(Though that did require cooking at some point, didn’t it?)

But I cooked and ate and reheated and ate and re-re-heated and ate steaming hot soup this past week.

And it was very very refreshing.
Soupe au Pistou
At first, it doesn’t make sense to eat food that makes you sweat even more than the temperature outside, but that seems to be exactly the point. Sweating is your body’s way of cooling itself down, so you’re just helping your natural a/c along.

Thick, heavy soups like chowders and chili and stews, however, are not part of this. At least, not for me. Something about a clear broth, like the base of Soupe au Pistou (which isn’t even broth or stock, but straight water), is just as important to cooling down with steaming hot soup, but that may be more psychology than physiology.

Soupe au Pistou is just a very simple vegetable soup from the south of France. Most of the flavor comes from the bit of bright, garlicky pistou that you stir into your own bowl at the table. With a couple of pieces of bread, it’s a perfect, light lunch to eat in the shade on an outdoor patio. With the addition of a salad and a few glasses of Rosé, it’s an entire meal.
Soupe au Pistou

Soupe au Pistou

Most recipes include green beans, tomatoes and zucchini. I think it’s fine to include whatever vegetables look good at the market. I left out potatoes and tomatoes, as well as cooked pasta, which also seems to be a common ingredient.

serves 4-6


1 clove of garlic, smashed
1 medium onion
1 stalk celery
1 carrot
1 small fennel bulb
handful of thin green beans, trimmed
1 medium zucchini
1 tablespoons olive oil
8-10 cups water
bay leaf + sprig of parsley + sprig of thyme
1½ cups cooked cannellini beans (I used canned!)
sea salt + pepper
optional: peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes, potatoes, cooked pasta (about the same size as chopped vegetables), shaved Parmesan or other hard cheese


Wash, peel (if necessary) and chop all vegetables into uniform shape and size.

In large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onions and cook about 2 minutes without letting them brown (you may have to turn down the heat to medium low).

Add the rest of the chopped vegetables (including tomatoes and potatoes if you’re using them) except zucchini, cook for about 2 minutes.

Add water, bay leaf+parsley+thyme and about 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat to just slightly above a simmer. Cook until carrots are just starting to turn tender. Add zucchini and cooked beans (and pasta, if using).

Taste broth, season with salt if needed (but not too much, since there is some salt in the pistou).

Serve with pistou and grated or shaved Parmesan cheese.

by Sarah J. Gim on July 29, 2011 · 0 comments

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