Raymond Blanc’s pistou soup
- August 2022
- Serves 4
- Hands-on time 30 min
Raymond Blanc’s simple, hearty pistou soup – combining lots of fresh vegetables in a flavoursome broth with a garlicky pistou– is a delicious summer starter or main.
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- Vegetarian recipes
- 36.1g (7.7g saturated)
- 20.5g (5.8g sugars)
For the pistou
- Bunch basil (30g)
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 100ml extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground white pepper to season
For the soup
- 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ medium onion, cut into 1cm dice
- 1 medium carrot, cut into 1cm dice
- ½ celery stick, cut into 1cm dice
- ½ small fennel bulb, cut into 1cm dice
- 1 small courgette, cut into 1cm dice
- 700ml boiling water
- 50g fresh peas (optional)
- 60g podded fresh broad beans (optional)
- 60g french beans (optional)
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- 40g parmesan, finely grated (or vegetarian alternative)
- 20 thin croûtes or a large handful croutons, rubbed with a cut garlic clove
- To make the pistou, plunge the basil into a pan of boiling water and blanch for 3 seconds, then refresh in cold water and drain well (see Know How). Purée the basil with the garlic and oil in a blender (or pound the basil and garlic in a pestle and mortar, then mix in the oil), then taste and season with salt and freshly ground white pepper. Set aside (see Make Ahead).
- For the soup, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a low-medium heat (see tips). Add the onion, carrot, celery, fennel and courgette, then fry gently for 3-4 minutes, seasoning with a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour the boiling water into the pan, then add the peas, broad beans and french beans (if using). Boil rapidly for 3-4 minutes. During the last minute of cooking, add the tomato, 50g of the pistou and a generous handful of grated parmesan, then season to taste.
- To serve, pour the soup into a warmed tureen or serving bowls and sprinkle over some more of the parmesan. Put the croûtes or croutons and the rest of the parmesan on the table so guests can help themselves.
“When cooking with olive oil, I generally use a good quality refined oil, which can tolerate a higher heat than extra-virgin olive oil. However, for this soup I use an extra-virgin oil as it gives a wonderful flavour and will only be heated gently.” Raymond Blanc
Next time: Vary the ingredients however you like, perhaps replacing one or more of the vegetables with spinach or swiss chard. Any pasta or pulse would also be a great addition to this soup, transforming it into a main course. You’ll need more garlic, of course!
The pistou can be prepared up to a week in advance and stored in a sealed jar in the fridge with a thin film of olive oil over the surface to keep it fresh. You can make the soup a few hours in advance and finish it at the last moment with the pistou.
Blanching and refreshing the basil leaves will fix the chlorophyll, preventing discolouration and ensuring the vivid green colour is retained. You’ll lose some of the perfume of the basil, but as there’s so much of it you’ll still have a wonderful flavour. (You can prepare the pistou without blanching the basil – it will taste wonderful but will soon oxidise and lose that bright green hue.)
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