Monday, July 6, 2009

Soupe au Pistou

This famous soup from Provence is literally “soup with pesto.” But, oh my, how much more it is than that. Rich with vegetables in the late spring and summer it’s one of the most satisfying of soups. And that dollop of pesto is what truly makes the soup remarkable and so much more than vegetable soup. Pistou is the Provençal word for “pounded” derived, just as the pesto of Liguria, from the Latin pestare, meaning the same. In fact, pesto and pistou, are more or less the same thing, a condiment of pounded basil, pine nuts, garlic, and olive oil. One of the earliest descriptions we have of something similar comes from the Roman poet Virgil who writes in verse in his Ecolgue II,
“now even the cattle court the cooling shade
And the green lizard hides him in the thorn:
Now for tired mowers, with the fierce heat spent,
Pounds Thestilis her mess of savory herbs, wild thyme and
You will find a recipe in my new book THE BEST SOUPS IN THE WORLD, forthcoming in December published by Wiley.

[Photo: Clifford A. Wright]

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