Provençal Vegetable Soup with Tomato-Basil Pesto (Soupe Au Pistou)

I first discovered Soupe au Pistou, Provençal Vegetable Soup with Tomato-Basil Pesto, when reading Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Ma. This book is not to be confused with Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Simone Beck, Louisette Berthole, and Julia Child (her first cookbook).

Ann Ma describes her experience traveling to a village in Southern France during summer vegetable harvest time. When gardens are bursting with ripe tomatoes, zucchini, green beans, white beans, fresh basil, and potatoes– what to do?

They have the perfect solution in this small town. Everyone gathers with their surplus produce to slice, dice, and make huge pots of brothy Soupe au Pistou to be shared with friends and family. It’s a real community event, and I imagine it’s much more fun than slaving away by yourself in a hot kitchen in July or August.

In preparing to teach this recipe, I referenced a few other versions of the recipe, the one in Mastering the Art of French Cooking and the most recent one in Cook’s Illustrated All-Time Best Soups. I came up with this version, that can easily made vegan by leaving out the parmesan cheese. I prefer to serve grated parmesan on the side. 

If you’re using leeks (rather than onions) in this recipe, go ahead and make a simple stock out of the green parts. Just slice the green parts of the leek, rinse well under cold water, then place them in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Strain out the leek greens and you are left with a light and flavorful broth to use in your Soupe Au Pistou!

For more soup recipes on my web site, visit:

Italian White Bean Soup

Italian Chickpea Soup with Fusilli

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

Cecilia’s Pozole Verde

Miso Vegetable Soup

Creamy Corn Soup with Dulse

Creamy Broccoli Soup with Fresh Rosemary

Roasted Carrot and Fennel Soup

Provençal Vegetable Soup with Tomato-Basil Pesto (Soupe Au Pistou)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
“Early summer is the Mediterranean season for soupe au pistou, when fresh basil, fresh white beans, and broad mange-tout beans are all suddenly available, and the market women shout in the streets, “Mesdames, faites le bon piste, faites le pistou!” The pistou itself, like the Italian pesto, is a sauce made of garlic, basil, tomato, and olive oil, and is just as good on spaghetti as it is in this rich vegetable soup. Fortunately, this soup is not confined to summer and fresh vegetables, for you can use canned navy beans, fresh or frozen string beans, and a fragrant dried basil. Other vegetables in season may be added with the green beans as you wish, such as peas, diced zucchini, and green or red bell peppers.” — Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle, and Julia Child
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: French
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • Soup
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups leek (white parts) or onion, diced
  • 2 cups carrots, diced
  • 2 cups potatoes (yukon gold or red), diced
  • 8 cups spring or filtered water, divided
  • 2 cups zucchini, diced
  • 2 cups fresh green beans, ½” lengths
  • 2 cups cooked cranberry beans or white beans
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • Pistou
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • ½ cup fresh or canned tomato purée or 2 Roma tomatoes (seeded)
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
  • ¼ to ½ cup fruity extra-virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Heat large soup pot over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add leeks or onion and sauté with a pinch of salt for a few minutes.
  2. Add carrots and potatoes and stir to combine.
  3. Add 4 cups water, cover, and bring to a boil. Turn to low and let simmer for about 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the pistou by placing ingredients in a blender and blending until smooth. Instead of tomato puree, you can add two seeded Roma tomatoes to the blender.
  5. Add zucchini, green beans, cranberry or white beans (with cooking liquid if homemade; drained if canned), salt, and pepper. Add remaining 4 cups water (or more if needed), bring back to a boil, then lower heat and simmer slowly for 3 minutes.
  6. Stir pistou into soup and simmer 3 minutes more.
  7. Test for seasonings and add a little more salt and pepper if needed.
  8. Serve with rice, pasta, or fresh bread. Bon appétit!

Join me for upcoming Plant-based Cooking Classes for adults (lunchtime classes) and kids (summer camp) at Con’ Olio Olive Oils and Vinegars in their two locations– Bee Cave and Arboretum or schedule your own class from my on-demand offerings for families, groups, and individuals!

Salade Niçoise with Dijon Vinaigrette

photo of nicoise salad

This vibrant and delicious Salade niçoise was originally introduced to me by my mother Louise, who is an amazing cook and liked to teach me things from her French heritage. We first made this salad together for a holiday celebration at my school French class around 1987. I rediscovered this timeless salad several years ago, and enjoy making it a little differently each time. The dressing is a very basic vinaigrette that gets its distinctive taste from Dijon mustard. Check out the variations in the recipe and photos for more ideas.

Apparently, there are very strong feelings about what should or should not be included in a Salade niçoise. See the commentary on wikipedia for a run down of the “rules” if you want to be a “traditionalist” when it comes to making this salad! For instance, some defend that there should be no cooked vegetables in this salad. And it should have anchovies and eggs. I say, make it however you like it, and enjoy it! And maybe you can just call it “my favorite salad” if someone criticizes you for not making the authentic niçoise. 

Salade Niçoise
 
This beautiful composed salad is a meal in itself, especially if you add some large white beans, quinoa, or tuna. You can arrange the salad onto ndividual plates or one large platter.
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: French
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
Dressing
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
Salad
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
  • 1 pound fingerling potatoes
  • 4 cups mixed field greens or 1 head butter lettuce
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts, sliced in half
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced or 1 cup baby tomatoes
  • ½ cup kalamata or niçoise olives, pitted and sliced in half
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • ¼ cup parsley leaves, chopped
Instructions
  1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together red wine vinegar or lemon juice with mustard. Add a few pinches of salt and a grind or two of black pepper. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Set aside.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil with a few pinches of sea salt. Add green beans and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain green beans and spread them out on a plate or platter to cool.
  3. Scrub potatoes and peel away any blemishes. Place potatoes and a few pinches of sea salt in a pot and cover with cold water. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low and let simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes. Drain and place into a bowl. When cool, slice large potatoes in half or into several pieces, if desired.
  4. Arrange lettuce on large platter or individual plates. Place green beans, potatoes, artichoke hearts, and tomatoes on top of lettuce in distinct rows or mounds. Sprinkle olives and capers over the top. Drizzle the entire salad with some of the dressing, then sprinkle chopped parsley over the top.
  5. Serve with roasted salmon or canned tuna packed in olive oil, if desired.
Note:
  1. If you are able to find colorful fingerling potatoes, such as red or purple varieties, these look very beautiful in the salad.
Variations:
  1. Add cooked white beans such as giant Peruvian limas or butter beans.
  2. Add quinoa or quinoa with chickpeas.
  3. Omit cucumbers if not in season.
  4. Add 3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and cut in half.

Here are some other variations of the salad I have tried in recent years.

With golden fingerling potatoes and baby San Marzano tomatoes:

photo of salade niçoise

With quinoa and chickpeas and roasted salmon:

photo of salade niçoise with quinoa, chickpeas, and salmon

Arranged in a radial pattern, with plenty of artichokes!

photo of salade niçoise

I hope you enjoy making this salad, and please let me know if you come up with some new and delicious versions!

Smashed Potatoes with Tomato Sauce Grassoise

Summer tomatoes! This is the best time to cook with your homegrown or farmer’s market vine-ripened tomatoes. Try this simple but elegant recipe by Chef Alain Braux, originally from the Provence region of France. Chef Braux is a French Chef by training and a Culinary Nutritionist by passion. He is the lead instructor for the Food as Medicine course at The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts. He is also an award-winning, Amazon best-seller food and health author.

Feel free to visit Chef Braux’s website, A Votre SantéMedia PageBooks Page. You can also find him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter.

Smashed Potato with Tomato Sauce Grassoise
 
This simple yet striking recipe smells of my Provençal countryside. I hope you like it as much as I do.
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: French
Serves: 2 servings
Ingredients
Potatoes
  • 8 small fingerlings potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 quart water, boiling
  • sea salt, coarse
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
Tomatoes
  • 6 organic tomatoes, peeled
  • 2 quarts water, boiling
Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled, cut in ½, crushed
  • 1 shallot, minced finely
  • 1 pinch sea salt.
  • two turns of freshly ground pepper
  • 2 piquillos, finely cut
  • 1 tablespoons capers
  • 6-8 pitted black olives, chopped
Small salad
  • a few leaves mixed greens
  • 5 mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon flat parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chives
Lemon dressing for salad mix
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • crushed black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
Smashed potatoes
  1. Bring salted water to boil. Cook until tender. Drain. Place back in pot. Crush with potato masher, olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Keep warm.
Tomatoes
  1. Bring water to boil. Cut a small cross at the bottom if each tomato. Boil for one minute then drop in iced water. Drain. Peel. Cut in half. Take seeds out. Dice small.
Sauce
  1. In medium saucepan, heat olive oil at medium heat. Add garlic and shallot to pot 1 Tbsp olive oil. Cook until translucid. Add cut tomatoes. Add piquillos, capers and black olives. Allow to simmer to reduce liquid. When cooked, added chopped fresh herbs. Mix in. Reserve.
Salad
  1. Pick a few salad leaves with herbs. Toss them lightly with lemon dressing.
Plating
  1. Using a metal ring, place crushed potatoes inside the ring to form a galette. Top with tomato sauce Grassoise. Decorate with a few mint leaves.
Finish
  1. Add salad/dressing on the side of potato/tomato dish. Voila!

 

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