Winter Vegetable Soupe au Pistou

Updated: Mar 12, 2019



There is an old joke about Texas weather: you can expect winter in the morning, spring at lunch, and summer in the afternoon. When the seasons are changing, our weather is especially unpredictable. We are heading into spring and even though I was wearing shorts about two weeks ago, yesterday was FREEEEEEZING and I was ready for a big, snuggly bowl of hearty soup. I had some white beans and canned tomatoes in my pantry and knew exactly what my plan of action would be- soupe au pistou! I originally learned to make this vegetable and bean soup topped with an herby, pesto-like sauce while cooking with Patricia Wells at her bucolic farmhouse in Provence. The fresh ingredients we gathered were all so simple, but the resulting dish was incredibly complex and insanely delicious. I've created my own tribute to Patricia's iconic soupe au pistou using winter vegetables and some other short-cut techniques (i.e. canned beans and store bought pesto). As we inch further into spring, I'll prep this dish subbing in fresh peas and asparagus, and in the summer I'll swap for juicy vine ripened tomatoes and zucchini squash. It's a soup for all seasons!

*prep time: 20 min. *cook time: 1 hr. *serves: 6 as a main course soup


INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp olive oil

2-1/2 cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2" cubes

1 yellow onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 carrots, diced

3 leeks, white and green parts only, thin sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tbsp tomato paste

6 sprigs thyme

2 bay leaves

1 parmesan rind

26 oz canned diced tomatoes with juice

1-1/2 cans white beans

6-8 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup cooked orzo or other small pasta

1/2 cup pesto

1/4 cup dry white wine

4-5 cups baby spinach

grated parmesan cheese for serving

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven or heavy pot. Add butternut squash, onion, celery, carrots, garlic, leeks, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes to oil. Let vegetables sweat about 10 minutes until softened. Add 1 tbsp tomato paste and stir to cook 2 minutes more. Make a "bouquet garni" by tying thyme, bay leaves and parmesan rind together with kitchen twine and add it to the pot along with the diced tomatoes and stock. Season with another tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and give soup a big stir. Bring to a boil, then let simmer 30-35 minutes (until squash is tender). Add white beans and cooked pasta and simmer another 10 minutes. Remove bouquet garni and discard. Add 2 TBSPS pesto to soup along with white wine, spinach and more salt and pepper to taste. Let spinach wilt, about 2-3 minutes more. Ladle into bowls and serve drizzled with remaining pesto and some grated parmesan on top.

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