This is a dish that may not be a home-run with very young kids because its absolutely packed with veggies (YUK, what are you trying to do, poison me?), but its easy, flavorful, and can provide plenty of room for creativity for your budding teenage cooks. Soup au Pistou is a traditional Provencal dish that is made in as many different ways as there are cooks who make it. Loosely speaking, it is a summer vegetable soup served with a blast of fresh pesto, and many serve it, as I do, with a pesto topped crouton floating on top as well.
This is a great soup to make on your local Farmer’s Market day. If you can, bring the kids with you to meet the farmers who grow your local veggies, and let them choose some of the bounty that will find its way into the soup. There are no hard and fast rules as to what to include, and in fact, every time I make it, I end up with a distinctly different soup in the end. As long as you buy the freshest veggies you can get your hands on, and work to include a variety of color and texture in your choices, you’ll have a beautiful, fresh and satisfying soup in the end. If you use a store bought chicken stock, make sure it is a low sodium brand, and if you have the time, allow an hour at the start to infuse it with some aromatics to add a little more interest and depth to your soup.
Peyton missed the trip to the Farmer’s market this time around, but was fully up to the task of practicing her knife skills (which are really coming along) by prepping our mise of chopped, sliced, and diced veggies. While she was busy doing her ginsu thing, I crafted a little sachet that included, white peppercorns, anise seed, fresh thyme, and fresh rosemary, and set it steeping in our barely simmering store bought stock. The finished soup is delicious hot or cold, with a crusty bread as accompaniment.
- 1 16 ounce can of cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 1 large carrot, cut into 1/4 inch dice
- 1 small zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch dice
- 1/4 pound green beans, cut into 1 inch lengths
- 10 leaves of swiss chard or kale, sliced into 1/2" thick ribbons
- 1/2 cup of shelled peas
- 2 cups of tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
- 2 ears of corn, kernels cut from the cob
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced into rounds (on a Kyocera Adjustable Mandoline Slicer, Red , if you have one)
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- Salt and Pepper
- Basil Pesto
- aromatics - 1 stem fresh rosemary, 3 stems fresh thyme, 1 teaspoon peppercorns, 1 teaspoon anise seeds
- Place chicken stock and water in a sauce pan over low-medium heat. Add the aromatics tied in a cheese cloth bundle, and simmer for 1 hour. Remove the bundle and reserve the stock.
- Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy bottomed soup pot over low-medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and saute 15 minutes to soften. Raise the heat to medium, and add the green beans, zucchini, cannelini beans, tomatoes, and chicken stock to the pan, and cook 10-15 minutes. You want the soup at a simmer, not a rolling boil. Add the corn, peas, and swiss chard and cook for another 5 minutes. Check seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into warm bowls and top with a spoonful of fresh pesto. You can also make a crouton by taking a slice of baguette, topping it with some gruyere cheese, and toasting it under the broiler. Spoon some pesto onto the crouton and float it on top of your soup. Oh, la, la.