Pistou Soup

Pistou Soup 
from a

Provençal Birthday Lunch

Provençal Pistou Soup

extra virgin olive oil
1 medium leek, diced
1 large shallot, small dice
2 small celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 thyme sprigs
6 cups chicken stock 
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 15 ounce can white beans or great northern beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 ounces green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces

For Pistou
2 cups coarsely chopped basil
2 medium garlic cloves, quartered
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat 2 tablespoons of  olive oil in a large stockpot. Add the leek and shallot and saute until soft, about 6 minutes. Then add celery, carrots, bell pepper, thyme and 3 tablespoons of water and cook over moderate heat until the water has evaporated and the vegetables soften, about 10 minutes.
Add the stock and a large pinch each of salt and pepper; bring to a simmer. Add the green beans and can of white beans.  Cover and simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes.
Add the zucchini to the soup and simmer just until tender, about 4 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs and season the soup with salt and pepper. Remove the soup from the heat. Put soup into bowls and plop a spoonful of the pistou in the middle. Serve the rest of the pistou in a bowl for those who want to add additional flavor.

How to make the Pistou
In a food processor or blender (I used a Magic Bullet), combine the basil, garlic and parmesan cheese. With the machine on, slowly pour in the 1/4 cup of olive oil.  Blend until smooth (adding a little more olive oil if it needs it) and add salt to taste. 

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine magazine

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