La Soupe au Pistou is a classic summer soup from the countryside of Provence in The South of France. Think of this soup of the France’s version of Italy’s minestrone. The star ingredient is, of course, basil. But other summer garden favorites, such as green beans and tomatoes are showcased. My version here is clean and sublime, with no added oils or stock of any kind. I used water for the base to let the full flavors of the veggies shine through.
about 45 minutes
How to Enjoy:
as a starter or main
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 cups cubed (2 medium or 3 small) yellow-fleshed potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, unpeeled and cut into ½-inch cube
2 cups (½ pound) snap beans or French filet beans (haricots verts), cut in 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or Herbes de Provence blend)
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
2 medium tomatoes, sliced crosswise, seeded and sliced into ½-inch cube
5 cups water, plus more if needed
½ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
¼ teaspoon lemon pepper, optional
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon Bragg’s liquid aminos or tamari sauce
½ cup brown rice capellini or other small whole-grain pasta, broken into 1-inch pieces
1 recipe French “pistou” (pesto)
1 recipe Brazil nut parmesan
1. Dice the onion and garlic, using the CHOP and STOP method before cooking.
2. Heat a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and celery, and a tablespoon of water, sprinkle lightly with salt, cover and sweat, stirring occasionally, until translucent (do not allow to brown), about 10 minutes. Add more water as necessary to avoid sticking and browning; lower heat as needed.
3. Add the potatoes and snap beans; continue cooking over medium heat, covered, stirring often, for another 5 to 7 minutes. Add the herbs and the tomatoes; continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes.
4. Add the water, salt and pepper, and bring to a brief boil. Reduce to a simmer. Add the nutritional yeast and liquid aminos, and cook, uncovered, until the beans and potatoes are nearly tender, 5 to 10 more minutes. Add the capellini and cook until tender, about 10 more minutes. The soup is done once the potatoes and beans are tender.
5. To serve: Ladle the soup into bowls and stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons of pesto into each bowl. Garnish with Brazil nut parmesan.
Where did pesto come from? Pesto originates from Genoa (aka Pesto alla Genovese) in the Ligurian region of northern Italy. It came into play in the 16th century and traditionally consists of crushed garlic, basil, pine nuts, and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino cheese, blended with olive oil. Pistou is the French version of pesto but without nuts and cheese.
How did it get its name? “Pesto” is past participle of the Genoese verb pesta (Italian: pestare), which means “to pound”, in reference to the original method of preparation. According to tradition, the ingredients are “pounded” in a marble mortar through a circular motion of a wooden pestle. “Pister” is Provençal slang meaning to mash or crush (French: écraser).
This recipe qualifies for the whole-food plant-based (WFPB) designation, meaning that it is made of only of whole plant foods and does not contain any extracted ingredients, such as sugar or oil, that would damage the body’s endothelium (the inner most lining of the arteries).