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Nov 18, 2017

Provençal Vegetable Soup with Pistou (Soupe au Pistou)

This Provençal Vegetable Soup is so hearty.

Provençal Vegetable Soup with Pistou (Soupe au Pistou)

Provençal vegetable soup is from Provence, in the south of France. It's typically made with white beans, green beans, onions, leeks, carrots, zucchini, potatoes, and pasta. Cooks also add other fresh vegetables such as yellow squash, tomatoes, peas, and corn from the weekly markets throughout the region.

This soup is topped with pistou, a French pesto of basil, garlic, olive oil, and cheese, and sometimes tomato. It is absolutely fragrant and delicious, and it adds a magical richness to the soup.

Provençal Vegetable Soup with Pistou (Soupe au Pistou)

This soup reminds me of our wonderful vacation in France. Many years ago, we spent a week in the northwest part of Provence, and each day we visited the open air markets in the small picturesque towns in the region. My dad had rented a farmhouse in Bonnieux for six weeks, and invited us to spend a week there. It's the same area that Peter Mayle describes in his book, A Year in Provence.

In Provence, every morning of the week small farmers set up tables of freshly harvested fruits and vegetables, freshly baked bread, fish, eggs, olives, herbes de Provence, and even quail. There is also an amazing array of cheeses from the milk of cows, sheep, and goats. You can also buy Provençal fabrics and pottery.

On Mondays, the markets could be in Cadenet, Cavaillon, Goult, or Nîmes. On Tuesdays, you might find yourself in Aix or Gordes... and so it goes, every day of the week. Each town's weekly market gives you a glimpse into life in Provence.

Provençal Vegetable Soup with Pistou (Soupe au Pistou)

I highly recommend the book, Markets of Provence, for capturing the essence of the region. Even though it was written in 1991, a quick search on the interwebs confirms that not much has changed.

P.S. I also recommend trying wine from Provence, especially the rosés and and sparkling rosés.

This month the Soup Saturday Swappers are making French soups, a theme chosen by Sally of Bewitching Kitchen, who was lucky enough to live in Paris. In Paris!

For another soup with pesto, be sure to try Swiss Chard and White Bean Soup with Pesto

After the recipe, be sure to check out the collection of French soup recipes. Thank you to Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm for organizing this monthly event.

This soup recipe was adapted from Around My French Table: Over 300 Recipes From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, who has spent years living in France. I added the leeks, because every other recipe I found for this soup included them. The pistou recipe is my own, inspired by various recipes from Provençal cookbooks.

  1. This soup can be made in advance. For the make-ahead option, cook the pasta separately just before reheating the soup and then add it to the soup. 
  2. You will have plenty of leftover delicious pistou. Just cover it with a thin layer of olive oil and refrigerate it for up to a week. It's excellent on crackers, bruschetta, or crostini. I took it to work with this Dill Bread, and it was devoured. 

Yield: 6 servings

Provençal Vegetable Soup with Pistou


For the Soup
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium leeks, white and light green part only, finely sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3 sprigs of parsley, 2 sprigs of thyme, and 1 sprig of rosemary, tied together in a bundle
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 thinnish carrots, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, and cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 yellow potato (about 4 inches long), cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup small elbow or similar pasta
  • 1/4 pound green beans, cut into 1 1/2 inch lengths
  • 1 cup rinsed canned cannellini beans or cooked dried beans
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 2 Roma/plum tomatoes, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup frozen or fresh corn
  • 12 fresh basil leaves, torn, for garnish
  • Freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish
For the Pistou
  • 1 Roma/plum tomato
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing
  • 3 ounces of Gruyère cheese, grated


  1. In a 6 quart or larger saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks, onions, and garlic, and sprinkle with about 3/4 teaspoon of salt and about 1/4 teaspoon of white pepper. Lower the heat to medium low and cook the mixture, stirring regularly, until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the broth, scrape up any browned bits, and then add the herbs. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce it to low and simmer for 5 minutes. 
  2. Add the carrots and potatoes and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the pasta, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add both of the beans and the zucchini and simmer for 10 more minutes. Add the tomatoes and corn and cook for 3 more minutes.  
  3. Remove the herb bundle and the bay leaf. Serve with a dollop of pistou, and garnish with basil leaves and parmesan. 
  1. Cut the tomato in half, and broil in the oven on the middle rack until slightly charred on both sides. 
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the tomato, basil, parsley, and garlic cloves, and puree. 
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the Gruyère, and pulse until smooth. 
  4. Place the ingredients in a small bowl, drizzle with a thin layer of olive oil, cover, and refrigerate at least two hours. 
  5. Serve at room temperature with the soup. 

Provençal Vegetable Soup with Pistou (Soupe au Pistou)

Would you like to comment?

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Wendy! I loved it, and totally adored the pistou.

  2. What a fantastic choice, Karen! And yes, Provence is simply special... I will never forget when I visited, right at the season of lavender harvest - absolutely mind blowing!

    Thanks for playing in my little virtual party!

  3. A bowl of absolute HEAVEN!!! This looks to good to pass up! Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck - Colleen

  4. This bowl of soup is so delicious and healthy.

  5. Looks yummy! Thanks for sharing at Friday Frenzy Link Party! PINNED!

  6. Bravo Karen! This is a perfect choice for a healthy AND filling soup. We hope one day we'll be able to visit the French country, it must be so amazing for a foodie!:)

  7. I'm not known for lavish words but this soup just looks devine! The kind of soup that I would love to attempt to make... even the pistou!


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