Soupe au Pistou Recipe | Vegetarian Times Skip to main content

Soupe au Pistou

Pistou is a fragrant sauce of garlic, basil, and olive oil that's related to Italian pesto. Here, it is stirred into a Provençal soup at the last minute. The heat of the soup releases the flavors of the garlic and basil without cooking them.


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1 l/3 cup dried chickpeas, rinsed
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1 ⅓ cup dried pinto beans, rinsed
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1 15-oz. can chopped tomatoes
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1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
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1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
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1 bay leaf
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1 sprig fresh thyme
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3 medium red potatoes, cut into ½-inch chunks (1 cup)
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2 carrots, sliced (1 cup)
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1 cup frozen Italian flat beans
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¼ cup vermicelli, optional

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8 cups fresh basil leaves
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8 cloves garlic, peeled
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½ cup olive oil


1. To make Soup: Place chickpeas and pinto beans in large pot, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and let stand 30 minutes. Drain beans, and rinse.

2. Return beans to pot; add tomatoes, onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and 5 cups water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Season with pepper, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Add potatoes and carrots, and simmer, covered, 30 minutes. Stir in flat beans, and cook 10 minutes, or until beans are tender. Stir in vermicelli, if desired. Cook 3 minutes more.

3. Meanwhile, make Pistou: Pulse basil and garlic in food processor until finely chopped. Add olive oil, and pulse until combined. Transfer to small bowl.

4. Spoon 2 Tbs. Pistou in bottom of each bowl. Spoon Soup over top.

Nutrition Information: 

6 g
Total Fat: 
14.5 g
Saturated Fat: 
2 g
22 g
0 mg
375 mg
6 g
5 g
Serves 8

Comments on this Recipe

I have made this soup many times. It is dee-lish! I understand the comment about the basil and use prepared pesto when basil is not in season around here. One bonus to using that is it can be added (or not) to individual bowls based on each diner's preference. My hubby likes a LOT.

This soup is delicious! I made it around 3 months ago, and I can't stop having it!! totally recommended!!

Where can you find 8 cups fresh basil in November, in Wisconsin? Is there a low cost substitute?

8Cups of basil in November? I'd need an extra job just to pay for it.

Sounds good, but my sons now refuse to eat anything that comes out of a can. Any suggestions for substituting the canned tomatoes?

Where I live, we haven't had the first frost yet this year. So basil bunches are both really full and really cheap because it's the last of them. For inexpensive basil bunches year-round, I shop in Asian grocery stores where, even in January, a large bunch that yields about 4 cups of leaves is $1.00. Asian grocery stores are a much better option for most herbs--mint and cilantro are also sold in large bunches year-round. A final (inexpensive and easy)option would be to buy prepared pesto and stir it into the soup.

I don't think there is that much garlic in store bought pesto but you could doctor it up.

My husband and I are finally on a weight loss plan and he is strictly counting calories, while I am avoiding dairy/meat, and only eating very little poultry and fish on this diet. So the Nutritional Information on your recipes are VERY important to us. Thank you for supplying this info. and for your fabulous magazine!!! Love it!!

For fresh basil try Trader Joe's... they usually sell a large tub of organic basil for around $3 year round...

You can use fresh tomatoes instead of canned, just peel, deseed and dice them first. If you can't find any fresh basil at all, you can sometimes frozen cubes of (once fresh) basil in the frozen foods section of the grocery store. Instead of making the pistou, I'd just drop the cubes directly into the soup at the last minute of cooking. You could try thawing the cubes first, but I suspect they'd be too mushy to work with?

Plan ahead and during the summer grow your own basil. It is really easy to do. Then harvest and freeze the leaves in portion size containers for this soup recipe.