Vegetable Soup with Sweet Basil
This is a lovely summer vegetable soup that my father discovered years ago from Wolfgang Puck (who was recounting a favorite recipe from his mother). It’s a French classic “Soup au Pistou” for which you gently cook very fresh summer vegetables in either water or stock, and stir in a paste (“pistou”) of basil, garlic, and tomatoes.
Dad makes the soup several times each summer, especially when the garden is producing a lot of summer squash and tomatoes! It’s a great way to use up garden produce.
Note from Wolfgang Puck: His mother only uses water, because her vegetables are peak-of-the-season, just-picked, and therefore full of flavor, but you can use stock if you like. Pistou, the puree of tomatoes, basil, garlic, and olive oil in this recipe, is a traditional French condiment that adds a burst of flavor just before serving.
- 2 small leeks, white part only
- 1 large potato, peeled
- 1 small onion
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 medium zucchini
- 12 green beans
- 2 medium carrots, peeled
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 quarts chicken stock (or 2 qts water, 4 bouillion cubes, a pinch of thyme, and 1/2 bay leaf OR you can use vegetable broth for a vegetarian option)*
- 4 to 6 ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded
- 4 medium garlic cloves
- 30 fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- A few drops of Tabasco sauce
*Use gluten-free stock or bouillon for gluten-free version.
1 Cut the leeks, potato, onion, celery, zucchini, green beans, and carrots into 1/4 inch diced cubes.
2 In a 6-quart stockpot, combine 3 tablespoons of the olive oil with the 3 tablespoons of water. Add the vegetables and cook over medium-low heat until all the water evaporates. Do not brown the vegetables.
3 Add the stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
4 Meanwhile, make the pistou. Put the tomatoes, basil, garlic, and remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a food processor. Pulse until puréed.
5 Stir the purée into the cooked soup. Do not let the soup return to a boil. Season, to taste, with salt, pepper, and a few dashes of Tabasco. Serve the soup hot or cold.