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Provençal Pistou

Using a food processor and a blender for the potent basil puree gives it an ultra-smooth consistency that helps it blend easily into the vegetable soup.

  • Servings: 4 to 6

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  • 4 ounces fresh shelled beans, such as cranberry beans (about 1 cup) or 1/2 cup dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight in cold water and drained
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups plus 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium leek, thinly sliced
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 small celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 4 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • Salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 4 ounces green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped basil
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, quartered
  • 1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces


  1. In a small saucepan, combine the beans with the bay leaf and 2 cups of the water. Cover partially and simmer over low heat until tender, about 20 minutes for fresh beans and 45 minutes for dried. Discard the bay leaf.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the leek, shallot, celery, carrots, bell pepper, thyme and the remaining 3 tablespoons of water and cook over moderate heat until the water has evaporated and the vegetables soften, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the stock and a large pinch each of salt and pepper; bring to a simmer. Add the green beans, corn and the cooked shell beans along with any remaining cooking liquid. Cover and simmer over low heat until the corn is tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the basil and garlic and process to a paste. With the machine on, slowly pour in the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil. Transfer the puree to a blender and blend until very smooth. Scrape the puree into a bowl and season with salt.
  5. 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, stir in the basil puree and serve at once.
Contributed By Photo © Sarah Anne Ward Published October 1999

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462145 2013-12-06 Marcia Kiesel fall|stewing|french|soups-and-stews|4|vegetarian|web-exclusive|lunch october-1999, recipes,provencal-pistou 462145