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Kirschner CollectionRecipes

Soupe au Pistou

By October 26, 2012September 16th, 2023No Comments

soupIt’s full-on autumn here and that means it is time for soup! Aside from the weather, I am choosing to share a recipe from Evelyn Gendel’s Soup! this week for a number of reasons:

  1. The cover is bright orange and reminds me of theOpen Access Week paraphernalia we’ve been handing out at the Libraries all week. In fact, I could very much use some soup after handing out OA Week brochures outside this afternoon.
  2. You may have noticed a child’s handwriting on the front. This book apparently belonged to Jimmy (not Lisa). I’m a sucker for personal artifacts (some might say defacements) like that.
  3. This particular recipe calls for winter squash which is abundant right now. In fact, you can buy pie pumpkins right here on the St. Paul campus from the Soils Club.

Soupe au Pistou*


3 medium potatoes
1/2 pound string beans
1 pound broad beans (or fresh lima beans)
1/4 pound slice winter squash
6 cups water (about)
1/2 cup vermicelli, in pieces
3 cloves garlic
1 small bunch fresh basil
1 medium-small tomato
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon grated mild cheese


Peel and dice the potatoes, break string beans into pieces, shell broad beans (or lima beans), peel and seed the slice of winter squash. Put all into a big soup pot with slightly salted water, bring to a boil and simmer, covered until soft — a good hour. Add some thick vermicelli and continue cooking until vermicelli are soft (5-7 minutes). Add more water if soup gets too thick.
Meanwhile, pee the garlic, strip basil leaves off stems (discard stems), peel and seed the tomato. Put garlic, basil leaves and tomato into a mortar or heavy bowl and pound and rub them to a paste. Then slowly stir in olive oil, drop by drop, as if for a mayonnaise. Thicken with the grated cheese.
As soon as the soup is ready, put this pistou into a soup tureen, pour the boiling soup over it, and serve at once.
* Pistou (like Italian pesto) is the word for pestle, and for what the mortar and pestle produce.

By Soup! by Evelyn Gendel (1967)

Mark Engebretson

Author Mark Engebretson

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