The French and Italians have always fought over who created this recipe. My Italian friends would argue that the name ‘pistou’ is very similar to the Italian word ‘pesto’; but then there’s also the French Provencal word ‘pistou’, meaning a paste made with garlic and basil, and that is the foundation of this delicious soup. I like to think that ‘pistou’ is probably derived from the old French word ‘pesto’, meaning ‘pestle’: to grind l’ail et le basilic! And let’s not forget that Lombardy was once, albeit briefly, a region of France. Allez les bleus!
For the pistou sauce
basil leaves and stalks, washed
extra virgin olive oil
For the soup
white onion, chopped into 1cm dice
carrot, peeled and diced 1cm
celery, peeled and diced 1cm
fennel, chopped and diced 1cm
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground white pepper
courgette, diced 1cm
peas, fresh (optional)
cherry tomatoes, skin on, halved
fresh pistou sauce (see recipe)
freshly grated parmesan
croutons or toasted baguette finely sliced
Blanch the basil in plenty of boiling water for 3-5 seconds, to cook and fixate the chlorophyll, and so keep its bright green colour. Stop the cooking by plunging it into iced water. Drain, squeeze out any excess water and chop.
In a liquidiser, using the pulse button, purée all the ingredients until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Reserve in the fridge.
In a large pan on a medium heat, sweeten the white onion, carrots, celery and fennel in the olive oil for 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the hot water and boil rapidly for 5 minutes. Add the courgettes and broad beans and cook for a further 3 minutes, then the peas and tomatoes and cook for 1 minute only. Lastly, mix in the pistou sauce and a generous handful of grated parmesan. Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary.
Divide the soup between four bowls. Sprinkle some parmesan over each bowl. Serve the croutons either on the soup or separately.
THIS RECIPE IS ADAPTED FROM THE BOOK KITCHEN SECRETS
Raymond’s love of delicious food is lifelong. Years of experience have given him a rich store of knowledge and the skill to create fantastic dishes that work time after time. With a range of achievable and inspirational recipes for cooks of all abilities - and useful tips throughout - this book brings Gallic passion and precision into the home kitchen.