Vegetable Soup with Sweet Basil
The simple soup my mother makes from the vegetables she grows in her own garden next to the house where I grew up in St. Viet, Carinthia[, Austria, is very little different from the following traditional French recipe: just lots of good, fresh vegetables and some liquid to cook them in.]
- 2 small leeks, white part only
- 1 large potato, peeled
- 1 small onion
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 medium zucchini
- 12 green beans
- 2 medium carrots, peeled
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1/2 gallon chicken stock (or 1/2 gallon water, 4 bouillon cubes, a pinch of thyme, and 1/2 bay leaf)
- 6 ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded
- 4 medium garlic cloves
- 30 fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cut the leeks, potato, onion, celery, zucchini, green beans, and carrots into 1/4-inch dice.
In a 6-quart stockpot, combine 3 tablespoons of the olive oil with the water. Add the vegetables and saute over medium-low heat until all the water evaporates. Do not brown the vegetables.
Add the stock and bring to a boil. Cook at a gentle boil for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a food processor fitted with the metal blade, put the tomatoes, basil, garlic, and remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Pulse until pureed.
Stir the puree into the cooked soup. Do not let the soup return to a boil. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve the soup hot or cold from a tureen or in individual bowls.
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