In hospitals throughout France, meals always begin with potage, a blended vegetable soup of leeks, carrots, and potatoes. We’ve jazzed up the mild flavor with a quick pesto sauce that gets stirred in before serving.
1. To make Potage: Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks and pinch of salt; cover, and cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until leeks are softened, stirring often. Stir in wine and garlic, and cook, uncovered, 1 to 2 minutes, or until most liquid has evaporated.
2. Add potato, carrots, thyme, bay leaf, broth, and 2 cups water. Season with salt and pepper; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 30 minutes, or until potato and carrots are soft.
3. Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Purée soup in blender or food processor, or with immersion blender, until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
4. To make Pistou: Place basil, walnuts, and garlic in blender. Pulse to combine. Pour in oil, and blend until smooth. Add water if necessary to form smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper. Serve dollop on top of Potage.