Soupe au pistou is a summer vegetable soup with pasta, served with pistou, a mixture of garlic, olive oil and basil.
Soupe au pistou is presented like this in the “Cuisiniere de Provence”: “This soup, Genoese, is not in favor in Provence, its use is still very limited. Put in a pot with two quarts of water 1/2 kilogram of green beans, cut into small dice 3 or 4 sliced potatoes, peeled and chopped 2 tomatoes, season and cook. At three-quarters of the cooking time, add 500 g coarse vermicelli and let finish cooking, but very slowly, so it does not stick to the bottom, because this soup should be very thick. When ready to serve, crush 2 or 3 cloves garlic, with a sprig of basil, sprinkle with 3 or 4 tablespoons of olive oil, turning as to form a light aioli: this composition dilute it with 2 tablespoons of the soup , then put it in the bowl with a handful of grated cheese, stirring well ”
Today, the soupe au pistou encountered in Nice or more generally in Provence has changed somewhat. As with many recipes, every family, every cook has his method. Generally, it is made of fresh vegetables: beans (green, marbled with white or red shell), zucchini, potatoes and tomatoes. No winter vegetables. Pasta, which are cooked in broth, are thick (small whistles striped or cut spaghetti), and it is in this that when serving is diluted the pesto. The pesto is not cooked: basil loses its flavor.Grated cheese should not “string”: holland red or dry parmesan do well.
The pistuo is close to pesto (from the Italian pestare, “crush”) of the Ligurian cuisine. It contains, however, pine nuts, parmesan and pecorino. The term designates Provençal pistou, from the pestle mortar used to make the preparation, not the basil it is based on.
Basil losing a lot of flavor from cooking, pesto is usually mixed with the soup before serving or served separately to be mixed directly on the plate by the guests. The pesto is a mixture of garlic, basil, tomatoes, peeled and crushed, all crushed and “connected” with olive oil and mixed with grateddry red cheese: it has the consistency of a cream that everyone adds to the soup at his convenience.
Traditionally, it is advisable to accompany this soup is a red wine or rosé (Bandol (AOC) or Côtes-de-Provence (AOC)), or a white wine such as Cassis (AOC).
For 6 people:
600 g red dry beans
600 g white dry beans
300 g green beans
2 large ripe tomatoes
1 large onion
2 large potatoes
4 large handfuls of shell-shape pastas, or cut spaghettis
6 cloves of garlic
half of a plant of basil
Preparation: 60 minutes
Cooking time: 100 minutes
Total Time: 160 min
Preparation pistou soup
1 Prepare all vegetables (it is very long, at least 1 hour). Cut carrots, green beans, zucchini, potatoes into small cubes.
2 Put the red and white beans, green beans, zucchini, carrots, two whole tomatoes, leaving the skin on, in a pot filled with salted water, but don’t cover, cook for 45 minutes. To check cooking, rely on red or white beans. Put a sprig of basil.
3 After 45 minutes add the potatoes, cook for 15 minutes, add the pasta last. Cook for about 10 minutes (depending on the quality of the pasta). Remove the sprig of basil when everything is cooked.
Soupe au pistou: While everything is cooking, prepare the pesto, made with garlic and basil. Pluck basil, crush the basil leaves (no branches) while adding olive oil to make a sort of thick paste. When everything is crushed, remove the tomatoes from the pan, remove the skin, flesh and mix with pesto. Salt and pepper to taste.
5 Stir the pesto in the soup and let simmer for about 5 more minutes.
6 Finish by adding parmesan or grated cheese, some people add cayenne pepper.
Finally … Prepare all the vegetables the day before, cook the pasta and prepare the pesto at the last moment. The longest step in this recipe is the preparation of vegetables. The soup is even better the next day, reheated.