This is a very substantial soup so it is better to serve it as a main dish rather than a starter. It is infused with the strong flavours of vegetables ripened in the sun. For this reason, its flavours come through best when served just a little hotter than lukewarm.
Although it is a Summer soup, it will be very warming in the middle of Winter too.
Serves 6 – or 4 with a big appetite!
300g runner beans, rinsed, top and tailed and cut into 2cm pieces
300g kidney beans, shelled
300g borlotti beans, shelled
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into smallish cubes
2 courgettes, peeled and cut into smallish cubes
2 large, ripe tomatoes, rinsed and quartered
2 onions, peeled and quartered
6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 handfuls of fresh basil leaves, rinsed
100g tagliatelle, broken into 2cm pieces
200g grated Emmental cheese
3 soupspoonful olive oil
2 litres water
Salt and pepper
1. Put the beans into a big cooking pot containing the 2 litres of water and some salt. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 1 hour.
2. Add the potatoes, onions, courgettes, tomatoes, a little pepper and the tagliatelle and cook for another 30 minutes without the lid on, checking that there is still sufficient water to cover the vegetables.
3. Meanwhile, put the garlic cloves and the basil leaves in a mortar and add the olive oil gradually, crushing with a pestle.
4. When the soup looks very thick, turn off the heat and add the mixture of garlic and basil, (the “pistou”).
5. Pour into a big tureen and serve with the grated Emmental.
Note: If fresh kidney beans and borlotti beans are not available, tinned beans can be used but their cooking time must be reduced since they are already cooked.
The “pistou”, very similar to pesto, makes a delicious sauce for pasta.