Soupe Au Pistou- A French Summer Classic

18 Jun

Walking past the farms at the moment it is clear that we are at an “in-between” seasons moment. The tomatoes are still green, the peppers are on their way but apart from that not much is happening.

The only vegetables being harvested are the new season potatoes…..


And the enormous Spanish spring onions..

Potato, leek and onion just sounds like a soup doesn’t it? But I didn’t want to make a thick, creamy leek and potato soup, it’s far too hot for that. And Vichysoisse, non!  Call me a heathen if you like but, even coming from the land of Gazpacho, I can’t eat cold soup. I wanted something light, fresh and clean tasting.

I remembered seeing Raymond Blanc making his mother’s (Maman Blanc’s) summer vegetable soup which he served with a basil pistou. Pistou is the French version of pesto, without the nuts. It looked so clean, clear, healthy and delicious. Just perfect for a summer’s day, and it’s quick too. The vegetables are still quite al dente (or whatever the French word for al dente is) which adds to the freshness of the dish.

The pistou is amazing. I made mine with parsley instead of basil because I didn’t have any. When I buy basil here in the summer it wilts in the heat before I get home, so annoying.

You just blitz a big bunch of parsley (or basil) leaves with extra virgin olive oil and loads of garlic.  The original recipe uses parmesan as well. I left that out to keep it vegan and it was still stunning. Drizzled over the finished soup it lifts all the flavours and takes it to another level.

It keeps really well in a sealed jar in the fridge too. If you make this amount you will have some left so you are only minutes away from a quick and delicious dinner. Just stir the pistou through some cooked pasta and garnish with toasted pine nuts and/or parmesan. Or drizzle it over some sliced fresh tomatoes for an impressive side dish or salad.

This recipe is actually a combination of Dorie Greenspan’s Warm Weather Pot- Au-Feu and Maman Blanc’s Soupe Au Pistou. The original Soupe Au Pistou would also contain white beans so you could add some cooked haricots or cannellinis towards the end of cooking to heat through if you like. I thought the new potatoes were enough to give it body. Chopped fresh tomato is another ingredient that is sometimes added. I just cleaned out what I had in my fridge.

Soupe Au Pistou Recipe

serves 3-4, vegan, gluten-free

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 Spanish spring onion, finely sliced
  • 1 leek, cut off dark green parts (could keep for making veg stock), quartered lengthways, rinsed and sliced diagonally into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced diagonally into 1/2 inch pieces (reserve leaves)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 6 baby new potatoes, cut into 1cm slices
  • 2 large carrots (or 4 small) quartered lengthways & chopped into 1/2 inch pieces diagonally
  • 1 – 1 1/2 litres good quality veg stock ,preferably homemade (or water)
  • 1 strip lemon zest (use a peeler)
  •  2 inch piece lemongrass, cut in half, lengthways and bruised
  • 1 bunch asparagus, woody ends snapped off, cut into thirds
  • 4 or 5 mushrooms, removed stems, cleaned, finely sliced
  • 100 gr frozen spinach (or a bag of fresh, stems removed)

For the Pistou

  • a big bunch of basil or parsley leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of sea salt
  • ground white pepper
  • fresh grated parmesan (optional)

First put all the pistou ingredients in a processor (or mortar & pestle) and blend until smooth. Pour into an airtight jar and store in the fridge.

In a large soup pan, heat the oil over a medium heat then add the onions, leeks and celery and a pinch of salt. Cook for about 5 minutes until the onions have softened but not browned. Then add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Stir in the potatoes and carrots season with salt & pepper and pour in the stock/water. Throw in the lemon zest and lemongrass, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer gently (uncovered) until the vegetables are just tender about 10 minutes. The soup can be kept in the fridge now until you are ready to serve.

Bring back to the boil and add the asparagus, mushrooms (beans & tomatoes if using) and frozen spinach. Cook for another 4 minutes until asparagus is tender (add fresh spinach and celery leaves if using to wilt).

Taste for seasoning add more salt if necessary. Ladle onto a warmed soup plate and drizzle generously with the pistou.

Bon Appetit!!

Things That Made Me Smile Today….

Jacarandas en la Plaza Alta…

Have a Great Weekend & Happy Father’s Day !! xxx

19 Responses to “Soupe Au Pistou- A French Summer Classic”

  1. Medeja June 18, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

    Interesting usually 🙂
    I guess for nice summer day such food suits perfectly..

  2. Jill@MadAboutMacarons June 18, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    Ooh, French pistou soup is one of my favourites and a real taste of summer. I love all your photos bringing us into the recipe – also adore Maman Blanc; she sounds quite a lady! You’ve made me smile today, too, with these Jacarandas. Discovered them on my first trip to South Africa. They are the most amazing trees I’ve ever seen. You’re so lucky!

  3. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide June 18, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

    Pistou sounds delicious and this soup looks amazing. I love your photos too.

  4. tony ward June 18, 2011 at 6:52 pm #

    Looks great and I bet it tastes even better. Looks to be right up my street (or calle or rue ) Thats all thats left of my misspent youth ~
    Will give this one a whirl really soon. Love the Jacarandas…….que memorias guapa ? xx

  5. thefooddoctor June 18, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

    This looks and sounds refreshing and yummy!
    love the Jacarandas..the flowers are amazing..this is my favorite color

  6. The Travelling Chopsticks June 18, 2011 at 8:38 pm #

    Although I don’t agree with you on cold soup – as I love it on a hot day, but I agree wtih you on everythign else 🙂 this soup looks really interesting and I wll be trying to make it soon! Plus your photos are lovely! X

  7. Maris (In Good Taste) June 18, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

    All so fresh and delicious! What an awesome garden! Gorgeous photos

  8. Beth Michelle June 19, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

    This soup looks so amazing. It is really terribly hot here now and the thought of soup is just horrible. However, this look so light and fresh, I may just have to try it. Beautiful!
    We have trees here that bloom with very similar purple flowers like you posted. They stay flowery for about 2 weeks then turn to green leaves. I just love them! They line the block I live on. Ahh I wish they would stay in bloom all year!

  9. peteformation June 19, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    Yummy delicious vegan soup! Love the greens inside it!

  10. sarah June 20, 2011 at 1:31 am #

    This soup is perfect for our chilly June weather! I’m with you on the cold soup front….just can’t do it.

  11. tiffany June 20, 2011 at 3:13 am #

    Clean, clear, healthy and delicious… you’ve said it all! Happy Sunday! 😀

  12. Adriana June 20, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    I love your combination of recipes – this is the best clean up your veggie drawer soup recipe. Your pictures of Malaga make want to visit. What a beautiful, bright sky!

  13. bakingdevils June 20, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    This is an amazing recipe for a great summer soup and the addition of Pesto like creation sounds totally yummy. Absolutely beautiful pictures…I must say, that I had never seen a spring onion the size as on your post 🙂 We do learn new things every living second….


  14. Maureen June 20, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

    I half agree on the cold soup. I can eat it but it never feels like I’ve had a meal. My brain treats it as a dessert and then looks for dinner. 🙂

    I’m going to make this very soon, it looks so inviting and it’s been cold here so hot soup will make me feel warm.

  15. Kelly June 20, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    Soupe au Pistou is wonderful and your photography is absolutely stunning! What a beautiful journey; thank you.

  16. Lindsay June 20, 2011 at 10:37 pm #

    Ohhhhhhhhh, yum. Something I haven’t tried yet, but have been dying to try! Thanks for the (ever increasing) inspiration!!!

  17. Olivia June 21, 2011 at 6:57 am #

    I have never cooked with leeks before, I think I have to try your yummy soup!

  18. Ruth June 21, 2011 at 10:46 pm #

    This looks like a perfect summer recipe – lots of healthy veggies, but lots of flavour too!

  19. Vegetarian Chinese Recipes August 26, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    Hello there, simply turned into aware of your blog thru Google, and found that it is really informative. I?m gonna watch out for brussels. I will appreciate if you continue this in future. A lot of other folks will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

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