Recipe: Rustic vegetable soup with rye croutons and parsley-savory 'pistou'

Total time: About 1 hour

Note: This makes more "pistou" than you will need for the soup. You can use the extra to top grilled chicken or mix it into salads or steamed vegetables.

Servings: 4 to 6

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1 bulb of fennel, thinly sliced (preferably on a mandoline)

5 cloves garlic, finely chopped plus 2 cloves garlic, smashed, divided


Freshly ground black pepper

3/4 pound fingerling potatoes, sliced crosswise into 1/4 -inch-thick slices

1 bunch slender carrots, sliced crosswise on the bias into 1/4 -inch-thick slices

6 sprigs savory, divided

1 bay leaf

5 cups water

1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1/4 -inch cubes

2 bunches parsley, leaves only

Peeled zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

3 (1-inch) slices rye bread, cut into cubes

1. Heat a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, then the onions and sauté until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the fennel and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the 5 cloves of garlic and continue to cook just until the garlic is aromatic, about 1 minute. Season with one-half teaspoon salt and one-half teaspoon of pepper.

2. Stir in the potatoes and carrots. Add 2 sprigs savory and the bay leaf, then pour in the water. Stir in another half-teaspoon salt.

3. Bring the water to a simmer, then reduce the heat so the water just "shivers"; it will steam with maybe one or two bubbles every once in a while. Add the rutabaga and cook, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender.

4. Meanwhile, make the pistou. Place the parsley (reserving several leaves for garnish), the leaves of 3 sprigs of savory (reserving several leaves for garnish), 1 clove of garlic, the lemon zest, mustard and one-fourth teaspoon salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. With the food processor on, pour in one-half cup olive oil. Set aside.

5. Make the croutons. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil with 1 clove garlic in a pan over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and 1 sprig savory. Sauté, tossing frequently, until the bread is well-browned on the edges, about 3 minutes. Place the bread on a baking sheet and toast until the bread is dried through, about 5 minutes.

6. When the soup is ready, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. This makes about 2 quarts soup. Ladle the soup into bowls. Top each with a few croutons and a dollop of pistou. Garnish with parsley and savory and a grind of pepper. Serve immediately.

Each of 6 servings: 306 calories; 5 grams protein; 36 grams carbohydrates; 8 grams fiber; 17 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 674 mg. sodium.

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