Here it is the end of April, and I’m still making soup. I live in Michigan. The calendar says spring, but today’s weather says soup. Here is a lovely, easy vegan vegetable soup adapted from adapted from Simply Recipes. It is one of those recipes designed for preparing in the summer when fresh vegetables, tomatoes and basil are that their peak, but who wants to make soup in the heat of the summer? Fortunately, it is also recipe ideal for locally grown frozen veggies.
When I stumbled upon this recipe, I also learned something new – “pistou”. Pistou is a simple sauce of crushed garlic, olive oil, and basil, which can include tomatoes and/or cheese. It differs from pesto in its lack of pine nuts. Pistou can be served cold as a condiment, or with pasta, or swirled into soup just before serving.
Although the traditional Provencal dish, Soupe au Pistou, is made exclusively with summer vegetables, and a simple pistou, I preferred this recipe which incorporated some of the heartier winter veggies like leeks and potato. The Locavorious frozen whole tomatoes ended up being a perfect pistou ingredient. Since it’s winter, and I had no frozen basil, I used parsley and some arugula. Not traditional, but mighty good flavor in this vegetable soup au pistou.
1 large or 2 small leeks, white parts only
1 large potato, peeled
1 small onion
2 stalks celery
16 oz frozen summer squash medley
Handful of frozen green beans or sugar snap peas
2 medium carrots, peeled
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 quart vegetable soup stock, plus 2 more cups water or stock
16 oz frozen whole tomatoes
4 medium garlic cloves
1 cup or more parsley and/or arugula leaves, washed and dried
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
A few drops of Tabasco sauce
Cut the leeks, potato, onion, celery and carrots into 1/4 inch diced cubes.
In a 6-quart stockpot, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the cubed vegetables, the frozen squash and frozen green beans, and 2 tablespoons of water. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until all the water evaporates. Do not brown the vegetables. Add the stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the pistou. Rinse the frozen whole tomatoes under warm water and peel. Place tomatoes in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave for 1 minute, or until mostly thawed. Put the tomatoes, tomato-water, parsley, garlic, and remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a food processor. Pulse until puréed.
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.