My husband and I went to a French cooking class a few years ago that featured rustic country cooking. One of our favorite dishes was a French vegetable soup with beans and a cast of summer vegetables topped with a pesto. In using beef, I mean no disrespect to the vegetable soup from Provence that inspired this dish; because I inadvertently defrosted a stew meat package and wanted to incorporate herbs from our garden and vegetables from the farmers’ market, I created a beefy vegetable-filled soup topped with a pesto of fresh garden herbs. They say necessity is the mother of invention, and in this case it is true. Now I will gladly defrost stew meat in the middle of a heat wave just to create this light and satisfying summer soup!
Summer Beef Soup with Vegetables and Garden Herb Pesto
- 1 pound beef stew meat
- Salt and pepper
- 1-cup celery, chopped
- 1-cup carrots, chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1-cup chicken broth
- 3 cups of water
- 1-tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
- 1 can of white cannellini beans
- 1 medium zucchini (about 12 ounces)
- 1 cup of chopped green beans
For the Garden herb pesto
- ½ cup of herbs; mostly basil and parsley, but also some thyme, oregano, sage, marjoram, and rosemary.
- 1 clove of garlic
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
- In a cast iron enameled Dutch oven, brown the meat in olive oil or lard over a medium high heat. Let the meat pieces brown for at least ten minutes.
- Meanwhile, chop up the vegetables and add the celery, carrots, onions and garlic when the meat is browned.
- Saute until the vegetables are fragrant and softened.
- Add the chicken broth, water and fish sauce. I like to add fish sauce to my soups because it adds a depth of flavor, but if you aren’t a fan of fish sauce, omit it.
- Simmer the soup at a low heat for at least two hours.
- Before you are ready to serve, cut up the zucchini and green beans and add them to the soup with the beans and bring it to a boil. Cook until the vegetables are soft.
- Meanwhile, create the pesto by processing the fresh herbs, garlic and olive oil together, adding Parmesan cheese at the end.
- Top each bowl with pesto and enjoy!