Time: 20 minutes active, 1 hour total
If you’re like us, you’re short on time—but also unable to resist the temptation of all the gorgeous fresh vegetables at the farmers market every weekend, especially the abundance of squash that comes with the end of Colorado’s growing season. It can quickly add up to a fridge full of rotting vegetables. So, what’s a busy home cook to do?
A big pot of vegetable soup will use up all those veggies and make Sunday meal prep a breeze!
This recipe for vegan French pistou soup is simple to make and great for weekday lunches. (Pistou is the Provençal version of pesto, sans nuts.) In the spirit of not letting anything go to waste, and for some added greens, we used the carrot tops in our pistou. And while summer squash is traditional (we used zucchini), winter squash (such as butternut) will also work.
Finally, you can give your soup a Moroccan twist by flavoring it with ras el hanout. If you prefer, go traditional and season with thyme and black pepper.
Shopping List & Prep
Soups are versatile so feel free to get creative and replace the squash, green beans and chard with whatever you have on hand (about 12 cups chopped veggies).
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium or large yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 medium or large carrots, peeled and diced
Salt and pepper, to taste
1½ tablespoons ras el hanout OR 1 teaspoon dried thyme and ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1¼ –1½ pounds summer squash, diced OR 2 pounds winter squash, peeled, seeded and diced (about 6 cups diced squash)
1 (15-ounce) can navy, cannellini or garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes OR 2 pounds fresh tomatoes, diced
½ pound green beans, stems removed, sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 (32-ounce) box broth or stock (vegetable, chicken or beef)
1 bunch Swiss chard, roughly chopped into bite-sized pieces
Carrot tops from 1 bunch of carrots
1–2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 large handful fresh mint or basil leaves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large pot or Dutch oven to medium-low heat.
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, diced onion, red bell pepper and carrot plus 1 teaspoon of salt. Sauté, stirring often, until soft and translucent, 5–10 minutes.
Add ras el hanout or thyme and pepper—and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash begins to soften on the outside, 7–10 minutes. (If you’re using winter squash, you’ll have to cook a little longer, 12–15 minutes.)
Add beans, diced tomatoes, zucchini, green beans and broth/stock. (For a thinner soup, add up to 2 cups of water.) Bring to a boil.
Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, until green beans are tender but still have a little snap, about 20 minutes.
Stir in the chard or kale and remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. (Keep in mind that you will get more salt and pepper from the pistou, so avoid adding too much to the soup.)
Remove thick stem pieces from carrot tops; wash and dry them in a salad spinner.
Add carrot tops, mint or basil and garlic to a food processor or blender and blend until chunky, scraping down sides if necessary.
Add olive oil and pulse or blend until combined.
Scrape into a medium bowl. Salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle hot soup into bowls, top with a dollop of pistou and serve immediately with a loaf of crusty bread and butter.
Cindy and Eric Frigard are the co-founders of Masi Masa: Spice Without Borders. Their spice blends—like their Moroccan Ras El Hanout—help home cooks master flavorful cuisines they might otherwise be intimated to tackle, especially on busy weeknights. You can find more easy recipes like this on their website, masimasa.com