Soupe au Pistou (Provencal Vegetable Soup)

We have been getting a bit of June gloom here in San Diego lately so I’m making Soupe au Pistou (Provencal vegetable soup) full of spring vegetables to remind us that the sunshine will return shortly. The vegetables are cooked so they are crisp tender and the beans and pasta add richness and heft resulting in a soup that is so tasty and satisfying that it is easy to forget it is vegetarian. The pistou is incredibly flavorful and aromatic and I think would be delicious basically on top of anything. It is like pesto, but without nuts – an added bonus for your wallet and any nut-sensitive people in your life. 

This soup is in my regular rotation. It makes a good base that can adapt to my mood or the current state of my pantry. Sometimes I substitute barley for the pasta or omit it all together and add pancetta. Though I haven’t tried, I imagine the soup can easily be made vegan by sub-ing in vegan parmesan in the pistou.

Soupe au Pistou (Provencal Vegetable Soup)

From Cook’s Illustrated All Time Best French Recipes, 2016

Vegetable Soup

1 T olive oil
1 leek, white and light green parts, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4’’ thick*
1 celery rib, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4” thick
1 carrot, scrubbed, quartered lengthwise and sliced 1/4” thick
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 c. vegetable broth
3 c. water
1/2 c. small pasta, optional (I used orecchiette)
8 oz. haricot verts or green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2” long pieces
1 15 oz can of cannellini beans (aka white kidney beans) 
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/2” thick pieces
1 large tomato, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/4” pieces**

Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Sauté the leek, celery, carrot until softened, about 5-8 minutes, stirring every so often. Add in the garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Add in the vegetable broth and water and bring to a simmer.

Add in the pasta, if using, and cook for 5 minutes (the pasta will be undercooked). Add in the green beans and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Stir in beans, zucchini and tomato. Simmer soup until the pasta is al dente and the vegetables are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste (Note: I needed to add quite a bit of salt as my broth had very little).

To serve, top each bowl with a spoonful of the pistou (recipe below).


3/4 c fresh basil leaves
1 oz. (1/2 c.) grated Parmesan
2 garlic cloves
1/3 c. olive oil

Process basil, Parm and garlic in a food processor to roughly chop. With machine on, add in the olive oil. Like pesto, it will oxidize and turn brown as it is exposed to air, but will still taste delicious. 

* To thoroughly clean a leek, trim the top and the roots off the bottom then slice it lengthwise and fan out the layers under running water to clean the grit between the layers.
** In a pinch, or if I just don’t have it in me to seed a tomato, a small can of crushed tomatoes can be used instead. The soup will be a little more tomato-y but still delicious.


Looking for something sweet to go with your something savory? Try this:
Best Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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