La Soupe au Pistou is a hearty yet summery vegetarian bean soup packed with mixed vegetables, pasta and LOTS of basil. The perfect meal in a bowl , ideal meal prep to get you through the week.
Cooking time: two hours. Best to make it on a morning when you are doing other things around the house – there is lots of simmering time. (cooking time can be reduced significantly by using canned beans instead)
- 3 cups dry white beans (soaked overnight) Cranberry beans are ideal but if you can’t find them White Lima beans work very well. If you are using canned beans no need to soak them overnight.
- 4 cloves of Garlic
- 3 shallots or one white onion
- 2 branches of fresh thyme ( I used lemon thyme – so yummy!)
- olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 5 carrots
- 4 big yellow potatoes or 8–10 new potatoes
- 2 cups green beans
- 5 zucchinis ( I mixed green and yellow)
- 3 tomatoes
- 2 cups elbow pasta or small shape pasta
For the Pistou: (Basil/garlic garnish to be served on top of the soup at the end)
- 1 big bunch of basil (impossible to have too much!)
- 3 tomatoes, diced
- 7 garlic cloves, peeled
- 3/4 cup of grated parmesan
- 1/2 cup of grated hard cheese such as edam or gruyere
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- pinch of fleur de sel
- pinch of black pepper ( 3 turns on the pepper mill)
For the Soup
Chop up the onion and garlic. Lightly sauté in a big soup pot ( I love my Le Creuset Caribbean Blue Stock pot) with olive oil. Add the white beans and 16 cups of water. Add a teaspoon of sea salt and 2 branches of thyme and let simmer for 45 minutes until the beans begin to soften. If you are using canned white beans this process needs only be 25 minutes. This is what creates your vegetable bouillon.
While the bouillon is cooking, chop your tomatoes and zucchinis into little cubes. Peel and chop your carrots and tomatoes into little bite sized pieces as well. Snap the ends off your green beans and dice them into small sections.
Add the diced potatoes and carrots to the bouillon . Let simmer for 30 minutes stirring from time to time.
Add the tomatoes, zucchini and green beans. Let simmer an additional 30 minutes before adding the pasta: then let simmer for final 15 minutes.
If at any time you need to add more water – do so. The potatoes and the pasta absorb a lot of the liquid.
Pistou (make while the soup is simmering):
Best made with a pestle and mortar but a food processor also works well. (I have been using this immersion blender set for over 5 years now – I like that it doesn’t take up counter space)
Muddle the garlic cloves to create a paste. Add the basil leaves and a pinch of salt. Pulverize them into a thick paste. Add the olive oil while stirring continuously. Lightly stir in the diced tomatoes, the pepper and the cheese. (do not pulverize again to keep the vibrant green color of the pistou) In the words of Bocuse, the pistou should have the consistency of thick cream. If it is too thick, dilute with some of the vegetable bouillon from the soup.
Once the Soup is cooked (test that the white beans are done), remove the branches of thyme from the pot and serve into individual bowls. Grate parmesan on each bowl and serve with a spoon full of Pistou. Add some basil leaves to garnish if you wish. (Le Chef’s Wife tip: If you run out of time or will to make the Pistou – use a spoonful of pesto out of a jar. Not the same thing but the desired outcome is pretty similar and honestly, good enough…)
I served our Soupe au Pistou with a fresh baked baguette (that I made while the soup was cooking – here is the recipe for an easy to make baguette) and a wheel of goat cheese. This makes for a beautiful lunch on its own.
Does this recipe freeze well?
Yes, but without the pasta. Pasta absorbs a lot of water and becomes mushy in the freezer. If you are planning to freeze the soupe au pistou, my recommendation is to portion out the soup you want in freezer containers BEFORE you add in the pasta. Let the soup in the freezer containers cool on the counter before freezing for food safety. Then, a few weeks or months later when you are ready to enjoy your soup, simply bring to a simmer in a sauce pan and add the pasta then. A delicious meal in under 15 minutes!
Keywords: soup recipe, soupe au pistou, french recipe, french soup, provencal soup, pesto