There really is nothing like this soup, known in France as Soup au Pistou (far more elegant sounding).
I grew up eating this instead of chicken noodle, and so it brings me warm fuzzy feelings of home cooking. It's original recipe has also come from my mother's soup bible: The Cooking of Provincial France.
The secret trick to it's earthy goodness is infusing the broth with a pesto like sauce. The vegetables and noodles combined with the aromatic flavour of the broth makes for the most amazing meal of a soup. And it's entirely vegan and full of nutrients!
Pesto Infused Vegetable Noodle Soup (Soup au Pistou)
3 c water
3/4 c white beans, dry
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 diced onion
2 tomatoes, peeled and seeded
9-10 c water
3 diced carrots
2 diced yukon gold potatoes
1 c diced leeks
2 diced celery stalks (middle stalks with leaves)
1 1/2 c diced green beans
1 diced unpeeled zucchini
medium handful of buckwheat noodles
2 pinches saffron
1 tbsp salt
2 pinches/ grinds pepper
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated with a zester
1/2 c finely chopped fresh basil (well packed)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 c freshly grated parmesan reggiano
6 tbsp grapeseed oil (or olive)
First, the beans: bring the 3 c water to boil, pour in the white beans and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let them soak in the hot liquid for at least an hour.
Now the soup: warm the coconut oil in a large (this recipe makes ALOT of soup) pot. Stir in the onion and cook until they begin to brown slightly. Add the tomatoes and simmer for a few more minutes. Add the water (about 9-10 c), turn the heat up to high, toss in the carrots, potatoes, leeks, celery, salt, pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the white beans, their cooking liquid, green beans, zucchini, noodles, saffron and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
And lastly, the star of the show, the Pistou: while the soup is simmering, mash the garlic and basil together. I don't have a mortar and pestle, and quickly realized that mashing it with a wooden spoon against the side of a bowl would just not work. So, I used a small food processor to mulch the basil and garlic together. Work in the tomato past and the parmesan reggiano with a wooden spoon. Beat in the oil, 1 tablespoon at a time. As coordinated as I am, I couldn't make this work, so got my boyfriend to add the oil while I beat the mixture. Always nice to have a sous chef around!
Stir a bit of the soup's broth into the pistou to loosen it up before adding it. Remove the soup from heat and add the pistou, then let the infusing begin!
To serve, sprinkle with a few shavings of parmesan and a few fresh basil leaves.