Soupe au Pistou

Adapted from David Lebovitz

Notes from us and the author: Try to have all the vegetables diced and sliced about the same size, which makes for a nice presentation. Vary, or omit, the vegetables and other ingredients according to what’s available and what you like. When in season, leafy greens, winter squash, or other root vegetables would be a good addition. You can leave out the pasta and increase the amount of potatoes, or use neither. And/or you can omit the beans. If you wish to use canned beans, use 2 cups, or for a real treat, use 2 cups of fresh cooked shelling beans. Feel free to add any other herbs when sautéing the vegetables. There are a variety of ways to make this soup. Some people will cook the beans in one large pot with 3 quarts of water, then just add the vegetables once the beans are tender. The author likes to cook or “sweat” vegetables, in a sauté pan first, which encourages extra flavor out of them.


1 cup of dried beans, 2 cups fresh shelling beans, or 2 cups of drained canned beans, or omit
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
2 carrots, diced
2 medium zucchini, diced
1 large potato, diced
1 cup cut and trimmed green beans
1 cup peas
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 cup dried pasta, any small variety (i.e. orzo, vermicelli, elbows or shells)
For the pistou:
1 clove garlic
pinch of salt
basil from your box, just the leaves
¼ cup olive oil
1 small tomato, peeled, seeded and diced (optional)
1 ½ ounces parmesan cheese, grated


If using dry beans: Rinse and sort the beans. Soak the beans overnight covered in cold water. The next day, drain the beans and put them in a large saucepan with the bay leaves and enough water to cover the beans with about 1 1/2 quarts of water. Cook the beans for about an hour, or until tender, adding more water if necessary to keep them immersed. Once cooked, remove the beans from the heat and set aside.

Dice all your veggies to roughly the same size.  Heat the oil in a large dutch oven or stock pot.  Add the onions and cook until soft.  Add the thyme, bay leaves, carrots, zucchini, potatoes, green beans, garlic and salt.  Season with some pepper if you like and cook until the vegetables are completely cooked through.  Add the pasta and peas, plus two quarts of water.  Bring the soup to a boil and simmer for a few minutes until the pasta is cooked.

While the soup is cooking, pound the garlic for the pistou in a mortar and pestle (or use a food processor) with a generous pinch of salt.  Coarsely chop the basil leaves and pound them into the garlic until the mixture is smooth(ish).  Drizzle in the olive oil slowly, while pounding, then pound in the tomato and cheese.  Taste and season with more salt if it needs it.  

Ladle the hot soup into bowls and add a generous spoonful of the pistou and swirl it around to combine.  Add more if needed.  

If the soup is too thick, thin it with additional water. If not planning on serving all the soup right away, keep the cooked pasta separate and add only what’s needed for each serving. If left in the soup for a long period, it will continue to swell up and become overly soft.