This is what you make when you have a bounty of spring vegetables. Or rather… when you had a bounty of spring vegetables and now all you have left is a random assortment.
This particular day I had a half bulb of fennel, half an onion (why do I always have a half of an onion?)… some parsnips, a couple of carrots and a few chard leaves that were on the wilty side. I cooked these things down into a pretty humble soup, but sometimes a humble soup is just what you need.
To kick it up a notch, make a pistou (a french version of pesto – stronger and without nuts). It’s traditionally made with basil but I took some liberties and mixed in a few tarragon leaves that I happened to have.
Pretend you are eating this peasant meal somewhere in Provence and pour yourself a nice glass of rose. (I realize rose isn’t in my photo above, but ideally it would have been).
I realize this ingredient list may look a bit long, but feel free to adapt this and use up whatever veggies you might have on hand.
soup au pistou
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ onion
- ½ fennel bulb
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- ½ cup chopped parsnips
- ½ cup chopped carrots
- 4 teaspoons dried herbs de provence*
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 1 can diced tomatoes, liquid drained
- 4 cups veggie broth
- 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
- a few tablespoons torn fennel fronds
- 4 or so large chard leaves, chopped, stems included
- ½ cup dried quinoa macaroni noodles (optional)
- salt, pepper
- generous squeezes of lemon
- generous grating of parmesan (a few spoonfuls of nutritional yeast, if vegan)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- about 2 cups fresh herbs (I used basil and tarragon)
- ½ clove of garlic
- a few pinches coarse salt
- lemon zest from ½ a lemon
- parmesan cheese, if you wish
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, salt and pepper. Sweat the onion until translucent. Add the fennel and garlic, a pinch more salt, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for another few minutes.
- Add the parsnips, carrots and herbs de provence and another pinch of salt. Continue cooking for 8 or so more minutes. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, stirring to get any bits off the bottom of the pan. Let the wine reduce for another few minutes.
- Stir in tomatoes, broth and beans. Reduce heat and let it simmer until the root vegetables are tender. 20-30 or so minutes.
- While you wait, make the pistou. Coarsely chop the herbs, then grind all ingredients in a mortar and pestle. (or pulse everything in a food processor). Taste and adjust. (hint - wait and taste it with a spoonful of the soup before adjusting).
- Add the chopped chard leaves, macaroni noodles and fennel fronds, and continue to simmer until the noodles are cooked. About 10 more minutes.
- Taste and adjust seasonings. Finish with generous squeezes of lemon, grated parmesan cheese, and a spoonful of pistou, per bowl. Serve with crusty bread.