This is the first version of soupe au pistou that Paula Wolfert ever loved. She learned the recipe in the '70s from Claude Thomas, her neighbor in Tangier, who was writer Paul Bowles's French translator. Thomas's trick was to use a ratatouille-like mixture as a base for the hearty soup. Here the soup starts with a sautéed mix of eggplant, onions, garlic, peppers and zucchini.
More Warming Soups
1 small eggplant (1/2 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Italian frying pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 pound medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
7 roma or plum tomatoes—peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 1/2 cups)
3 quarts boiling water
1 1/4 cups dried cannellini beans (1/2 pound), soaked in cold water overnight and drained
Bouquet garni made with 3 large basil leaves, 2 parsley sprigs, 1 thyme sprig and 1 bay leaf
2 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 pound mixed green beans and yellow wax beans, cut into 1-inch lengths (2 cups)
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch dice
Finely grated Mimolette or lightly aged Gouda, for serving
How to Make It
In a colander, toss the eggplant with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and let drain for 20 minutes. Rinse the eggplant well and squeeze out as much water as possible.
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until very soft but not browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Add the eggplant, frying pepper and half of the zucchini and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft, about 30 minutes.
Pour the boiling water into the pot and add the drained cannellini beans. Cover and simmer gently over moderately low heat until the beans are tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Add the bouquet garni, carrots, mixed green and wax beans and nutmeg to the soup and cook until the beans are tender. Season the soup generously with salt and pepper. Stir in the remaining diced zucchini, the potatoes and the macaroni and cook until the potatoes and macaroni are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the Classic Pistou. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with grated Mimolette; pass additional grated cheese at the table.
The soup can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat and add the Classic Pistou shortly before serving.