the last October meal.

October 31, 2010

As October brought its autumnal nights to a close this eve, my favorite month passed me for the twenty-fourth time, and it seemed only appropriate to commemorate the shift with a hearty bowl of soup. With children in colorful costumes ringing the doorbell, the warmth of Soupe au Pistou brought us around the kitchen table between trick-or-treaters. This hearty vegetable soup is reminiscent of minestrone, jeweled with beans and pasta, but the real treasure of this French recipe is the generous spoonful of fresh pesto that is served on top of the steaming hot soup. It brings a color and flavor that excites the palate and warms the body. The recipe is extremely flexible, so use whichever seasonal vegetables you want, or any pasta that you have.

The soup I made was inspired by a Soupe au Pistou recipe in the Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook. Sorted by recipes that correspond with a plethora of vegetables, it is easy to be inspired by the seasonal offerings at hand. The book also has beautiful color linocut images of vegetables, bringing further inspiration.

And it with this new vegetable cookbook in hand, the promise of red leaves, and the recipe of such a sumptuous soup in my back pocket, that I feel a little better about leaving October behind and boldly stepping into all things November.

Soupe au Pistou

inspired and adapted from Chez Panisse Vegetables, Alice Waters
and Bon Appetit, May 1999

feeds an army, 8-10 folks with plenty to freeze for later

3 small onions
1 1/2 pounds yukon gold potatoes
2 large carrots, chopped
2- 14 ounce cans diced tomatoes
2 cans Cannelloni beans
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed, cut into 1inch pieces
1 zucchini
1 yellow summer squash
1 tablespoon thyme
2 bay leaves
6 quarts of water and/or flavorful vegetable broth
1 cup farfalle pasta
Pistou (recipe below)

Heat olive oil over medium-low heat, and add onions, cooking slowly, until just translucent. Add vegetable stock and/or water and bring to a simmer.

Add garlic cloves, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes with juices, green beans, zucchini, squash, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to boil. Cover; simmer until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.

Add beans and pasta to soup. Simmer 15 minutes, until pasta is just cooked through but still firm to bite. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If time allows, let soup sit at room temperature for an hour, and reheat to serve. Ladle soup into bowls. Serve the soup with a generous spoonful of Pistou. Pass remaining Pistou separately, along with more grated Parmesan.


3 garlic cloves
3 cups (packed) fresh basil
1/2 teaspoons salt
6 tablespoon good olive oil
3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan

Combine all ingredients with mortar and pestle or food processor.


One Response to “the last October meal.”

  1. This dish looks awfully warm and comforting. Your foods do too. Is it the light? Maybe. But I think that it’s the food too ;] Goodbye October—it is officially autumn, becoming winter, eh?

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