If I were had to only have one type of soup for the rest of my life, I would hope for it to be Soupe au Pistou. Not just any soupe au pistou, Rick Stein’s Soupe au Pistou. I saw him making it on his Food Heroes show on BBC, and while making it he professed “if you only make on dish from this series, make this one.”.
I did, and I have never looked back. More, I would be entirely happy to eat nothing but this soup.
chicken and vegetable broth
In spite of the huge amount of nutritious vegetables that this soup includes, it also has a slightly unhealthy amount of fat provided by the inclusion of parmesan and olive oil in generous quantities (in the pistou). It is what gives the soup its incredible taste, but for a day-to-day option I usually go for something a bit more modest, and instead choose to add some chicken for the flavour enhancement. The recipe is widely open to invention and improvement (also known as ‘whatever is in the fridge’), but this is how I made it last (note quantities are approximate):
150 g haricot beans (soaked overnight)
1 leek, sliced
3 medium-sized carrots, chopped into small cubes
4 potatoes, chopped into small cubes
4 chicken thighs
1 dried bay leaf
Drain the beans. Place them in a large saucepan, with about 1 litre water and a bay leaf. Add salt to taste. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 minutes or until tender. Drain the beans and reserve the cooking water.
Heat about 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan (I used the same one); when moderately hot, add the chopped leeks and allow to cook for a few minutes (you could also add onions, garlic at this point). Add the carrots and potatoes, and the cooking water from the beans. Top up with water if this is insufficient.
When the water starts to boil, add the chicken thighs and allow to cook for about 20 mins. When the thighs are cooked, remove from pan and pull meat from bones with the help of two forks. Return chicken to pan, and add beans. Serve when warm.
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