Provençal Bean and Vegetable Soupe au Pistou

Provençal Bean and Vegetable Soupe au Pistou

Apart from the "pistou" itself — a pesto-like blend of garlic, basil, olive oil and hard cheese stirred in at the end — the only real requirement of an authentic southern French "soupe au pistou" is that it is made in the summer with seasonal vegetables. Naturally that is almost one restriction too many for me, for whom it seems that a thick, hot and nourishing broth of beans, vegetables, herbs and cheese should be just the thing to fill up and warm a person up on a cold winter day.

Served with buttered slices of French bread on the side, this delicious and aromatic soup is a wholesome and satisfying meal all by itself … which makes it a natural choice for my contribution to this month's No Croutons Required challenge of nourishing vegetable soups. I can tell you that it certainly did the trick for one very delighted guest who arrived with a very large appetite.

Here's a bonus tip: If you ever have a rind left over from grating Parmesan cheese, or any other hard aged cheese, never throw them away — they add a wonderful depth and base to savory bean or vegetable soups when added to the stock, and can be refrigerated or frozen for later use.


Provençal Bean and Vegetable Soupe au PistouProvençal Bean and Vegetable Soupe au Pistou
Recipe by
Cuisine: French
Published on January 11, 2009

A thick, hot and nourishing southern French broth with beans, vegetables, herbs and Parmesan cheese seasoned with a fresh homemade garlic and basil pistou

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  • 2/3 cup dried red kidney beans
  • 2/3 cup dried white kidney (cannellini) beans
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 whole dried red chili
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 zucchinis, unpeeled, chopped
  • 2 potatoes, unpeeled, diced
  • 2 carrots, unpeeled, sliced
  • 1 tomato, seeded and diced
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic or more, to taste
  • leaves and shoots of 3 sprigs of basil (or 15 - 20 fresh leaves)
  • small handful fresh parsley
  • 1 tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 5 oz (140 g) fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Rinse and soak the dried beans overnight in separate bowls, each covered with several inches of cold water and with a little yogurt whey or lemon juice added. The next day, drain and rinse the beans, then add to separate medium saucepans. Cover each with several inches of fresh water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are tender. Drain and set aside.

  • Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan or soup pot. Add the onion and dried hot red chili, and stir until the onion starts to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Pour in the vegetable stock and water, and stir in the red and white kidney beans, green beans, zucchinis, potatoes, carrots and tomato. If you have a Parmesan rind, add to the soup as well. Raise the heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, prepare the pistou by pulsing the garlic, fresh basil, parsley and tomato in a food processor. Add the parmesan cheese and olive oil, and process until smooth. Transfer half the pistou into a serving bowl.

  • Stir in the remaining pistou into the soup once the vegetables are cooked. Let simmer for a couple more minutes, and season with salt and plenty of fresh ground black pepper to taste. Remove the hot red chili and the Parmesan rind if using.

  • Serve in bowls with french bread on the side and the bowl of pistou on the side for diners to add to their soup.

Makes 8 to 12 servings

Provençal Bean and Vegetable Soupe au Pistou


Laurie Constantino said...

Mmmmm. Pistou. Such a lovely soup. The parmesan is a nice touch for adding lots of flavor.

Astra Libris said...

Your soup looks incredible!! Thank you for the great tip about using Parmesan rinds for soups - such a scrumptious idea!

Jacqueline Meldrum said...

Lovely big pieces of vegetables in there Lisa and I bet it tasted fab! Nice parmesan tip.

Anonymous said...

Lovely Soup. Love the way the veggies look in there.

Darius T. Williams said...

Looks amazing - who can say no to something like this? Certainly not me!

Vanamala Hebbar said...

Lovely soup...

Ivy said...

Ma c'est magnifique ;)

Peter M said...

Lisa, big chunky soups are big on my palate...a meal can be had here.

Usha said...

Perfect soup for this weather :-)

Jen said...

Well I've just said I need to start making more soups and then come across yours.... it looks delicious.

Susan said...

Gorgeous flavors and rich colors, Lisa! Excellent warmth.

Mallika said...

Looks delicious. But alas, summer is months away!

Rathna said...

Hearty and Healthy soup Lisa. Thanks for the tip about the cheese's rind. :-)

Bits said...

Your recipes are lovely... I know where shall I click when I wanted to make Indian's food... love it.

Allie said...

Wow, that looks amazing.