The hearty Provencal soupe au pistou, or "pistou soup", is often the first thing that chef and cooking instructor Patricia Wells has her students prepare, since it serves as a wonderful introduction to the rustic, fresh flavors of the South of France.



Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Prepare a bouquet garni: Place bay and thyme leaves in a square of cheesecloth, and tie securely with cotton twine. In a large, heavy-bottomed 10-quart stockpot, combine the olive oil, 3 halved garlic cloves, bouquet garni, and salt. Stir to coat with the oil and cook over moderate heat until the garlic is fragrant and soft, about 2 minutes. Add the navy and cranberry beans, and stir to coat. Cook for 1 minute more.

  • Add leeks, carrots, onions, potatoes, and quartered garlic cloves, and cook until softened over moderate heat, stirring regularly, for about 10 minutes. This will give a lovely color and rich flavor to the soup.

  • Add zucchini, tomatoes, tomato paste, green beans, 3 quarts cold water, and salt to taste. Simmer gently, uncovered, until the navy and cranberry beans are tender, about 30 minutes (cooking time will vary according to the freshness of the beans). Add additional water if the soup becomes too thick.

  • Add pasta, and stir frequently to keep the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pot, simmering until the pasta is cooked, about 5 minutes more. Taste for seasoning. Remove and discard the bouquet garni. Serve the soup very hot, passing the pistou and cheese to swirl into the soup.

Reviews (1)

19 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 6
  • 4 star values: 0
  • 3 star values: 4
  • 2 star values: 9
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 5 stars
Not only is this soup colorful, filling, and healthy, but also very flavorful. I fear that anyone who comments that it may need "more" could be forgetting the essential topping of Pistou (French version of pesto) at the very end. I serve this to a crowd frequently, and it is always a hit, but I let individuals add the basil and garlic Pistou themselves at the end. That essential final flourish is what awakens all the flavors. If you remember that part, I believe you'll love this soup.