This wholesome French stew, similar to Italian minestrone, gets its name and distinctive flavor from pistou, a paste made with crushed basil, garlic, and olive oil. In this recipe, the pistou is embellished with toasted pine nuts, as is pesto.

Martha Stewart Living, March 2002


Recipe Summary



For the pistou
For the croutons
For the soup


Instructions Checklist
  • Make pistou: In the bowl of a food processor, combine basil, pine nuts, garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pulse a few times to combine; with machine running, add 1/2 cup olive oil until mixture is pureed, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; set aside.

  • Make croutons: Preheat broiler. Place baguette slices on a baking sheet, and sprinkle each slice with 1/2 teaspoon Parmesan cheese. Place under broiler, and broil until cheese begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Remove from oven; set aside.

  • Make soup: Tie together thyme, parsley, and bay leaf with kitchen twine to make a bouquet garni. In a 6-quart stockpot, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add 1/2 onion, bouquet garni, and 2 garlic cloves; saute until onion begins to soften, about 4 minutes. Add shelled fava beans; cook 2 minutes more. Add 2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to low; cover, and simmer gently 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer beans and cooking liquid to a bowl; reserve, and remove garlic and bouquet garni.

  • While beans are cooking, bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil; add pasta and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook according to package instructions until al dente. Drain in a colander, and set aside.

  • In the same saucepan used to cook the beans, heat remaining 1/4 cup olive oil over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1/2 onion with the carrot, celery, leeks, and fennel, and saute 2 minutes. Add remaining 4 cups water, teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; cook 5 minutes more. Add peas, zucchini, reserved beans and cooking liquid, and pasta. Bring to a boil, and immediately remove from heat to preserve bright color of vegetables.

  • To serve, ladle soup into four shallow bowls, and top each with a few croutons. Drizzle 2 tablespoons pistou into each bowl; garnish with Parmesan cheese.