Vegetable Soup with Sweet Basil

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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.

Vegetable Soup with Sweet Basil Recipe

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  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6

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.

Ingredients

  • 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
  • Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • A few drops of Tabasco sauce

*Use gluten-free stock or bouillon for gluten-free version.

Method

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.

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Links:

Soupe au Pistou from David Lebovitz

Summer Minestrone here on Simply Recipes

Vegetable Soup with Basil

Showing 4 of 8 Comments

  • Janice

    Oh my goodness, I just made a pot of this and it is delicious! Thanks for sharing.

  • Michelle

    This vegetable soup is exactly the thing for satisfying a vegetable craving (you know the kind you get from eating too many rich foods like shrimp curry, kabobs, ribs, tamales, omelets). I actually really liked the soup before I put in the pistou. I had very small tomatoes, so I put in 9 instead of 4-6. I thought the pistou was a great idea (who doesn’t love fresh basil and tomatoes, olive oil and garlic!), but after adding it, it overpowered the delicate taste of the other vegetables, which I was craving.

    This is quite a quick recipe for a soup and the chopping is not too bad. I would make this in the future and add the pistou depending on how I’m feeling. Certainly the pistou gave it a summery flair (and sets it apart from normal vegetable soups), but I was in the mood for autumn when I made it, so it wasn’t what I wanted.

    I really enjoyed all the vegetables- the leeks especially. I didn’t add any Tabasco, but I added a generous bit of sea salt, since my stock was reduced sodium (and I usually don’t like adding any salt). I forgot the thyme and bay leaf. Perhaps next time I’ll try to remember. This recipe is worth making again!

  • Felicia

    We loved this soup! It was delicious, fulfilling, and used up all that basil I have growing. I needed another wonderful vegetable soup and this is definitely it!

  • Joan K.

    Frankly, I picked this recipe because I had a lot of tomatoes from our little garden and also some basil from my girlfriend’s garden. This recipe called for up to six tomatoes and thirty basil leaves. So I decided to cook this soup. It was delicious. I was afraid of all the basil; I had never eaten fresh basil before, but everything was perfectly balanced. Great soup.

  • Daphne

    I have made this recipe two or three times this summer and am making it again tonight with the last of the summer basil… it is so good and fresh. I find it needs a little extra salt and/or tomato paste if your tomatoes are less than stellar, but other than that, it’s excellent. I also add in a cup or so of fresh white corn.

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