I absolutely love soup. I love all varieties from creamy soups to thick and hearty chilis and stews. Often times the only problem I find with vegetarian soups is the lack of flavor. Some come across as watery, others as bland, and others have mushy vegetables. I can see how people would hate any soup that was flavorless. The best way I know to make a really flavorful soup is to start with simple, fresh ingredients and build layers. I start with a nice base of aromatics, you know, onions, shallots, garlic, leeks, things like that. Then I use the freshest vegetables I can find. I am a huge fan of beans, so those always make it into the mix. A great way to finish off a soup is a herbal swirl. In this case its a mix of basil, garlic, olive oil, and parm cheese. It’s just like basil pesto without the nuts. Feel free to use the nuts too, that would work out equally well. Arugula would also make a nice substitution for the basil.
This recipe is the kind of hearty vegetable soup that makes winter seem not so bad. The basil really adds a nice pop of fresh flavor. It only gets better with time. It couldn’t be easier to prepare and it will serve at least 4 or maybe even 6 people easily. The base is super simple, diced tomatoes. I love any vegetable soup with a tomato base. It’s similar in flavor to Minestrone. Serve this with a nice hearty, toasted slice on country bread drizzle with oil and rubbed with a little fresh cut garlic and it’s heaven in a bowl.
Vegetable Soup Au Pistou (a la Nicky)
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 – 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes with juice
- 3 – 4 cups water or vegetable stock (I prefer water, it gives you a nice unadulterated tomato flavor)
- 1 – 2 inch rind of parm
- 2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 large yukon gold potato, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch dice
- 1 – 15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 – 15 ounce can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Au Pistou Ingredients
- 4 cups basil
- 2 – 4 cloves of garlic (depending on how much garlic you like, you could even omit it entirely)
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parm cheese
To Make the Pistou
- Place the ingredients, except the cheese into a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse 5 -10 times or until the basil and garlic are chopped and the olive oil is incorporated. Place in a small bowl and stir in the cheese, set aside.
To Make the Soup
- In a large pan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 6 – 8 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic, thyme, and oregano and cook for 1 minute more.
- Add the tomatoes, 3 cups of water, parm rind, the carrots and potatoes. Make sure the vegetables are submerged in the liquid. Bring up to boil and turn down to simmer for 25 – 30 minutes. The carrots and potatoes should be almost fully cooked. Remove the thyme sprigs. Add the beans and cook for another 5 minutes.
- To serve dollop 2 tsp. of pistou in the bottom of 4 soup bowls. Ladle hot soup over the pistou and serve.