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Pistou Soup Recipe

A delicious vegetable soup, traditional in Provence, made with local vegetables and pasta, and finished with pistou paste (the French equivalent to Genoese pesto).
A bowl of grated Parmesan or Gruyere is an excellent accompaniment - for your guests to scatter on top themselves. It makes a good light lunch, if served with some good French bread.

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Key Features

  • Suitable for Vegetarians
  • Suitable for Vegans


For 6 generous helpings:

120gr/4 oz French Beans, headed and tailed, then cut into 2.5cm/1 ins pieces
2 medium-sized, firm Courgettes (the larger one's are too seedy)
90gr/3 oz waxy-type Potatoes, peeled and diced
1 Leek, the white and pale-green part only, carefully split and washed, then diced
2 old Carrots, peeled and diced
3 sticks of Celery, cut into dice
1 tin of Flageolet or Haricot Beans, drained, then rinsed through in cold water
1 x 400gr tin of Chopped Tomatoes, drained
90gr/3 oz Dried Pasta Shells
4 sprigs of Fresh Basil, chopped (don't be tempted to use the dried version)

For the Pistou:

3 medium cloves of Garlic, peeled
a good bunch of Basil Leaves
90gr/3 oz Fresh Parmesan
3 tablespoons (45ml) Olive Oil
a little Salt and freshly-ground Black Pepper


1. Put all the ingredients (except the fresh basil and the Pistou ingredients), in a big pan and cover with 1.7 litres/3 pints of water.

2. Bring this to the boil and simmer it for 20 minutes. Add the chopped basil and cook for a further 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. While the soup is cooking, make the pistou - either in a mortar, or in a food processor if you have one.

4. Do this by combining the dry ingredients, then drizzling in the olive oil to make a smoth paste, add a little salt and pepper.

To serve - share the soup between the bowls, then hand round the pistou for diners to mix in themselves. A sprinkling of fresh Parmesan is an optional topping (but on no account use the dried version, or all your good work will be spoilt.

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