We had a dinner party for six last night, and rather than spend hours fretting over a new recipe, I went with an old stand-by: la soupe au pistou. “Pistou” is French for “pesto” – the final ingredient you add to each bowl as you serve it. It’s a hit for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, and it’s so easy and inexpensive, it’s great for a crowd. No complicated techniques, all you need is time near the cooking pot.
Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 3-4 hours
What you need
4 tablespoons olive oil
one bulb of garlic (yes, the whole thing), minced
two medium onions, diced
2 carrots, cut into 1/4″ rounds
4 small potatoes, skinned and diced into 1″ cubes
1 zucchini, cut into 1/4″ rounds
1 heaping handful green beans, tips removed
2 cups white beans, pre-soaked overnight, or canned beans, drained
pesto sauce (store bought is just fine, avoid brands with lots of extra fillers)
What to do
Cook the pre-soaked beans in boiling water for one hour. Continue to simmer over low/medium heat as you cook the other ingredients. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium/high heat, then add the onions and garlic. Cook until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add carrots and cook a further 5 minutes. Add 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Then add the potatoes and cook about 10 minutes. Add the zucchini and green beans and bring to a boil once more. Strain the white beans, add them to the soup, and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for at least one hour. To serve: spoon into wide soup bowls and add one teaspoon pesto sauce to the center of each. Optional garnish: basil leaves.
Note: This soup tastes even better after it sits for a while, so it can be made a day ahead of time.