Soupe au Pistou

soupe au pistou

I love soup.  Come wintertime, the majority of recipes I post will probably be soup – I could probably live off of it.  Understandably, hot, hearty soups aren’t really a summer thing – why on Earth would you heat up your entire kitchen when it’s 100 degrees out?!  Well…maybe because you really felt like some soup.  Call me crazy, but as soon as I saw this recipe, I had to make it.  And I did, one warm central coast evening…..

Soupe au Pistou
adapted from Martha Rose Shulman @ NY Times – her version has even more veggies and pasta!

For the soup:

1 1/2 cups white beans, soaked for six hours in 6 cups water and drained
2 quarts water
1 large onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
A bouquet garni made with a few sprigs each thyme and parsley, a Parmesan rind and a bay leaf
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green part only, cleaned and sliced
1 14-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, with liquid
2 large carrots, diced
1 medium-size zucchini, scrubbed and diced
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and broken into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups), blanched for five minutes and set aside
Freshly ground pepper

For the pistou:
2 large garlic cloves, halved, green shoots removed
Salt to taste
2 cups, tightly packed, fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan for sprinkling


1. Drain the white beans and combine with 2 quarts water in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Skim off any foam, then add half the onion, half the garlic and the bouquet garni. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes. Add salt to taste.


2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet, and add the remaining chopped onion and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes. Add the leeks and remaining garlic. Stir together for a few minutes, and add the tomatoes. Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes have cooked down slightly and the mixture is fragrant, five to 10 minutes. Stir this mixture into the soup pot, add all of the remaining vegetables except the green beans, and bring back to a simmer. Cover and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes to an hour. Taste and adjust the seasonings.


3. While the soup is simmering, blanch the green beans for five minutes in salted boiling water. Transfer to a bowl of ice-cold water. Drain and set aside.

4. To make the pistou, mash the garlic with a generous pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle. Remove it and set aside. Grind the basil to a paste in the mortar, a handful at a time, then add the garlic back in and mix together well. Work in the olive oil a tablespoon at a time, then stir in the cheese.


5. Add pepper, taste and adjust salt. Stir the blanched green beans into the soup and heat through. Serve, adding a spoonful of pesto to each bowl for guests to stir in. Pass additional Parmesan for sprinkling.

Serves: Six to eight.

Advance preparation: The soup can be made through step 2 up to two days ahead, and definitely benefits from being made a day ahead. Refrigerate overnight, then bring back to a simmer and proceed with the recipe. The blanched green beans will keep for two or three days in a covered bowl in the refrigerator.


1 thought on “Soupe au Pistou

  1. Pingback: Summer Pesto « Sweet Life Laur

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