PROVENCAL VEGETABLE SOUP

This is a signature starter in France, light and flavorful.

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WHAT YOU'LL NEED:

olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 small leek, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 large celery stalk, chopped

28 oz can tomatoes, or 2 large fresh, diced
1 small potato, diced
8 c water
2 tsp salt

1 15 1/2 oz can great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
4 c green beans, fresh or frozen
4 c fresh baby spinach

2 c fresh basil, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c olive oil

2/3 c Parmesan or other hard grating cheese
1 tsp black pepper

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Heat olive oil in a large soup pot, add onion, leek, carrot and celery. Saute until aromatic.

Add tomatoes and potato, stir to mix. Add water and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 15-20 minutes.

Add beans and spinach. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, make pistou by mixing basil, garlic and olive oil in a small food processor until smooth.

Stir in pistou, cheese, and black pepper. Serve with crusty bread or a beautiful green salad.

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Serves 5 as a main, 10 as a side.
Recipe modified from Joy of Cooking