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Pistou soup

Pistou soup

As we move into the warmer months, I thought it might be hard to find the types of soups that fit warmer days. I’m not much into chilled soups —though I plan to make at least one foray into the genre this year — so that also limits the options.

It turns out there are plenty of soups that are clearly made for eating in the summer, and I plan to make as many of those as possible while still making room for light salads. We start this week with one of my favorites — pistou soup.

If you buy broth or have some on hand, this soup calls for little more than a half-hour in front of a hot stove. And it makes such a light soup — heavy on vegetables and flavor — that it doesn’t weigh you down like a heartier fall or winter soup.

Some say it’s Provence’s answer to minestrone. That’s a helpful place to start to get an idea of how this soup will taste.

Its name comes from pistou — a sauce that is a simpler form of pesto that nixes the pine nuts. Silly me, though, learned this after I had gone out of my way to find a store-bought pesto that included nuts. It’s still my preference to have traditional pesto with pine nuts, but readers who don’t want to go out of their way will be happy to know that many brands leave out pine nuts. Pistou/Pesto also is the simple flavor that brings the whole soup together. It’s added, with Parmesan, right at the end to give your soup that little kick it needs to make it more than minestrone.

Here’s what I did, following a recipe from a well-worn cookbook I own simply dubbed “Soup.”


2 T. olive oil

1 zucchini, diced

1 medium potato, diced

1 shallot, minced

1 carrot, diced

Salt and pepper, to taste

15 oz. can diced tomatoes

1 ½ quarts (6 c.) vegetable broth

¾ c. frozen green beans

¾ c. frozen peas

½ c. dried small pasta (I used mini shells)

6-8 T. pesto, for serving

Parmesan, for serving


In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil. Add in the zucchini, potato, shallot and carrot. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add in the diced tomatoes and the broth, along with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer the soup, covered, for 20 minutes. Add in the green beans, peas and pasta. Cook for about 10 minutes more until the pasta has fully cooked.

Ladle soup into bowls, and add a heaping spoonful (or to taste) of pesto to each bowl. Top with shredded Parmesan, and enjoy!


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