Shades of Green Soupe au Pistou de Lovage

May 20, 2010
4 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Sometimes in a vegetable soup, especially in a soupe au pistou, there can be too much going on, with so many competing flavors, colors and shapes. I've tried to keep the flavors of this soup unified and and delicate against the more robust and assertive flavor of the pistou. It has a light brothy base, with pale green onions and other vegetables cut to a medium dice, which are in contrast to the minced herbs of the deep green pistou. - SallyCan You could add some cooked white beans (and maybe skip the potatoes) if you like, and leeks would be good too. In the summertime, I'd replace the peas with fresh pole beans. A few years ago, my friend, Gabriella, who is from Romania, brought me a package of a dried herb labeled Leustean, and wondered if I could identify it for her. She wanted to grow it in her garden so that she could have it fresh for her soup. Leustean is what we call lovage, and for this soup I've created a lovage pistou, so in a way this soup is inspired by Gabriella. —SallyCan

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe was a joy to read and cook and the soup is true to its name. There really are many shades of green going on here, and the flavor of the perfectly cooked vegetables is wonderful. I love how all the vegetables retain their individual character, which is definitely what SallyCan intended. The unusual pesto adds a lovely touch. Highly recommended. - WinnieAb —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Shades of Green Soup
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 medium onions, 1/2 inch dice (about 1 cup)
  • 2 large shallots, quartered lengthwise and then sliced at a 1/2 inch
  • 5 or 6 spring or green onions, including green stems, 1/2 inch slice (about 1/2 cup)
  • 5 ribs celery, cut in half lengthwise and sliced at 1/2 inch (about 2 cups)
  • 1 small carrot, sliced at 1/4 inch (about 1/2 cup). Not too much, just enough to add some contrast.
  • 1/2 fennel bulb, cut to 1/2 inch dice (about 1 cup)
  • 1 or 2 medium white potatoes, peeled and cut to 1/2 inch dice (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup spring or sugar snap peas, shelled (for sugar snaps just slice any small pods 1/2 inch, and include the shell)
  • 2 quarts light chicken or vegetable broth, or water*
  • 1 cup Savoy cabbage, sliced thin and then across at 1/2 inch
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Pistou de Lovage
  • 2 cups lovage leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 cup parsley, flat leaf or curly, or a mix of the two
  • 10 sprigs chive leaves (will be about 2 tablespoons chopped)
  • 2 sprigs oregano
  • 5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 - 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  1. *For this soup, use a light stock, and if you don't have any that you've made on hand, then scrub your vegetables really well before you prepare them and add 2 quarts plus 1 cup water to your vegetable peelings (excluding the potato peels) and parsley stems, bring to a simmer and let them cook for about 45 minutes or so. Strain, and use this for your stock. (If you've got a chicken breast around, you could add it too, and have a nicely poached breast for tomorrow's lunch, perhaps with the rest of that fennel bulb and the pea shells).
  2. Heat butter and canola oil over low heat in large soup pot. When butter melts, add onions, shallots and green or spring onions. Cook at a medium low heat for a minute or so, just until they start to soften. (Resist the urge to caramelize them!)
  3. Add celery, carrot and fennel. Turn the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add potatoes and broth/stock, raise the heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften, but still have some texture. While this is cooking, get started on your pistou (see instructions below).
  5. Add peas and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes or so. Don't let the vegetables cook too much. Try to keep them from getting so soft that they melt together. Add the sliced cabbage and turn off heat. Finish the pistou, continuing wherever you left off.
  6. Season soup lightly with salt, remembering that there is salt in the pistou, and add pepper to taste.
  7. Pistou: Soften the garlic: Place unpeeled garlic cloves in an ovenproof ramekin, add olive oil, and cook at 350 for 10 or 15 minutes, until the oil begins to bubble and the garlic inside the peels becomes golden brown and is still soft. Watch carefully, as garlic will overcook quickly and dry out. Remove from oven and let cool.
  8. Chop the herbs: Don't be tempted to use your food processor, you'll have much more control of shape and texture with a knife, and standing there smelling the aroma of the lovage and other herbs just may be the best 10 minutes of your day. Start with the largest leaves, the lovage. Roll them up together, slice the rolled herbs, and then run your knife through the leaves first one way and then the other until they're about 1/2 inch pieces. Add the parsley to the pile and chop it all together. Add chives, and then oregano in the same way, running the knife back and forth in different directions until they all are a very fine mince, no larger than 1/8 of an inch. All together they should measure about a cup now. Place in small bowl.
  9. Take garlic from peels and mash/chop together with 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt. When it is a velvety paste, stir into herbs in bowl along with the olive oil used in cooking the garlic. Taste and add pepper and more salt if needed.
  10. To serve, ladle warm soup into bowls and top with a scant teaspoon of the pistou.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • thirschfeld
  • AntoniaJames
  • SallyCan
  • Rachel McGuire
    Rachel McGuire

8 Reviews

Rachel M. January 10, 2013
I have never heard of Lovage before, what is it like?
thirschfeld May 21, 2010
I really like lovage and think it is overlooked all to often. I have a lovage plant as big as a tree this year.
SallyCan May 23, 2010
My lovage plant is growing like crazy this year, too!
What do you use it in?
The lovage pistou is nice on top of a cracker with a little chevre.
AntoniaJames May 21, 2010
Plan to make this tonight or tomorrow . . . really like the suggestion(s) in Step 1 about making the stock . . . and the next day's lunch! This is the perfect seasonal soup right now, because all of the primary ingredients are in the farmer's markets, and at their best! Stay tuned . . . . . ;o)
SallyCan May 23, 2010
at the markets, or in the gardens...
Let me know how you like the soup...and the lunch ; )
AntoniaJames May 25, 2010
Alas, a rather thorough search has proven that there's no lovage to be had anywhere, it seems, in the East Bay. Not even in the nurseries!! Will have to plant from seed. In the meantime, will have to make do with celery leaves. I'll console myself, however, with the addition of shallot scapes, which we get only one or two weeks every spring. They make any pistou positively divine. ;o)
AntoniaJames May 20, 2010
Mmmm. So beautiful. I especially like Step 8 (introduction)!! ;o)
SallyCan May 23, 2010
I find that I enjoy eating what I've made more if I've taken the process of making it more slowly : )