Traditional recipes

Provençal vegetable pistou recipe

Provençal vegetable pistou recipe

  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Soup
  • Vegetable soup

Classic vegetable and pasta soup from the South of France, topped with a richly flavoured garlic and basil paste, called aïllade, and a sprinkling of Parmesan, makes a nourishing main meal. Serve with crusty bread, such as chunks of warm olive focaccia.

1 person made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 1.2 litres vegetable stock
  • 2 small leeks, thinly sliced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 courgettes, diced
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 200g French beans, cut into short lengths
  • 400g can flageolet beans, drained and rinsed
  • 100g dried vermicelli, broken into short lengths
  • 40g Parmesan, or Italian-style hard cheese, shaved
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 25g fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tomato, skinned, deseeded and chopped

MethodPrep:20min ›Cook:20min ›Ready in:40min

  1. Bring the stock to the boil in a large pan and add the leeks, carrots, courgettes and canned tomatoes with their juice. Bring back to the boil, then reduce the heat slightly, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Stir in the French beans, flageolets and vermicelli, bring back to the boil, then reduce the heat slightly and simmer for 5 minutes or until all the vegetables and pasta are tender. Season to taste.
  3. Meanwhile, to make the aïllade, use a mortar and pestle to pound the garlic, basil and tomato until smooth. Season to taste. (The aïllade can be prepared ahead and can be added to the soup when ready to serve).
  4. Ladle the soup into wide bowls and add a spoonful of aïllade and some thin shavings of cheese to each serving.

Parmesan cheese

Parmesan cheese is not truly vegetarian, as it contains animal rennet. To make this dish 100% vegetarian, omit the cheese or find a suitable vegetarian substitute made without animal rennet. In supermarkets look for the 'parmesan style hard cheeses' which are suitable for vegetarians.


Depending on the season, almost any fresh, diced vegetables can be added to the soup, and if supplies are short you can add a few frozen vegetables such as broad beans or sweetcorn.

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Recipe Summary

  • 3/4 cup dried navy beans
  • 4 leeks (1/2 pounds), white and light-green parts only
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 medium clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • ̇ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped thyme leaves
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into ̇-inch dice
  • 2 medium all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into ̇-inch dice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 8 cups homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock, skimmed of fat
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Gruyere cheese
  • 6 half-inch-thick slices country-style bread
  • 1/2 pound fresh spinach, washed, stemmed, and sliced into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1/4 cup fresh chervil, for garnish

Place navy beans in a large bowl andadd water to cover. Let soak overnight inthe refrigerator.

Fill a large bowl with cold water. Sliceleeks into 1/4-inch rounds add to water.Let sit for about 5 to 10 minutes to rid them of dirt and sand. Lift leeks out ofwater and drain in a colander. Set aside.

In a medium, heavy-bottomed stockpot,heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Addleeks and garlic sauté until translucent,stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes.Add parsley, rosemary, thyme, carrots,potatoes, and pepper. Cover and cook,stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minuteslower heat if mixture browns.

Drain beans, discarding soaking liquid.Add beans and stock to vegetables. Cover, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to lowcook until beans are tender, about 40minutes. About 10 minutes before thebeans are done, add salt.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 degrees. SprinkleGruyere over bread. Place on a cookiesheet toast until cheese is melted andgolden, about 10 minutes.

. Add spinach to soup cook 1 to 2 minutes more. Divide soup among bowls andserve immediately, garnished with chervil,if desired, and Gruyere toast.

Provençal Vegetables in a Pistou Soup

Peel all the vegetables for the soup except for the zucchini.

Peel, quarter, and seed the tomatoes, and remove the core and membranes.

String the green beans. Boil briefly in salted water with the peas in order to set the color. Cut the green beans in two lengthwise.

Put the white beans in a small saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Add the sage and rosemary, and simmer on the edge of the range. Once cooked, add a pinch of fleur de sel.

Dice the vegetables into a small brunoise.

Remove the pork rind and the gristle from the country bacon. Cut slices 1/5 inch (5 mm) thick, and dice.

This recipe was originally published in "Culinary Encyclopedia by Alain Ducasse" (Éditions Alain Ducasse). See all credits

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Pistou Recipe

Pistou is an infinitely adaptable condiment from Provence. A classic pistou consists of four simple ingredients: basil, garlic, olive oil and salt, but is quite accommodating to various herbs or the addition of nuts and/or cheese (which would make it more akin to Italy’s pesto).

Pistou is most commonly associated with the Provençal dish, Soupe au Pistou, but it can be served with pasta, as a spread for bread, over steamed vegetables or grilled fish, or as I prefer, as a dressing for tomato salad.

This recipe is mostly a guideline – feel free to scale up or scale down, vary the herbs (I particularly like parsley and mint in combination with the basil), modify the amount of garlic or lemon, or perhaps add parmesan or feta cheese, walnuts, almonds or pine nuts.

15 minutes (with food processor)

1-2 cloves Garlic, peeled, germ removed

1/4 cup Olive oil (to taste and desired consistency)

Splash of lemon juice (optional)

You can take the classic approach and use a mortar and pestle, which takes a bit longer but with creamier, more luscious results, or simply use a food processor.

  1. Grind garlic and salt until garlic becomes creamy.
  2. Add basil leaves – you may want to break them apart first – and crush leaves into garlic until a paste forms.
  3. Drizzle in olive oil, one tablespoon at a time, until the pistou reaches a smooth, sauce-like consistency.
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning. You may want to add as splash of lemon juice or a pinch more salt. You may also want to thin the pistou with a bit more olive oil.
  1. Add garlic, salt and basil. Pulse a few times until leaves begin to break down.
  2. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil, one tablespoon at a time, until the pistou reaches a smooth, sauce-like consistency.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning. You may want to add as splash of lemon juice or a pinch more salt. You may also want to thin the pistou with a bit more olive oil.

Enjoy this classic French Recipe. Our chefs love to make this dish for our guests while they stay at one of our luxury villas

Provencal Vegetable Soup with Pistou

A classic French country vegetable soup loaded with fresh good for you veggies and finished off with an unforgettable nut free French pesto. Comfort food that is both healthy and hearty!


Several times a year, I host public cooking classes. They always have a theme and they are always BYOB…which of course always guarantees a good time.

One of my favorite cooking classes was “Back to Basics”. It was the largest class I had and it just so happened to be on a very cold winter night in Chicago. The students ranged from 20 something girls who just wanted to learn how to hold a knife…all the way to a 60 year old Russian grandmother, (babushka) who was very set in her ways and was dragged there by her 30 something year old daughter as her birthday present. Needless to say, she was not a happy camper.

I decided on a super simple menu of the ultimate roasted chicken, perfectly golden potatoes and a classic French country vegetable soup with a pistou. Pistou is just the French term for a pesto. Basil, garlic, Parmesan, good olive oil, salt and pepper make the most incredible topping for this soup…or any soup for that matter. It’s ridiculously delicious and adds such a depth of flavor to this soup.

The babushka at the cooking class, was not having it. Let me tell you, she attempted to teach ME how to make the food I was teaching that night.

“My grandson, isn’t going to eat this soup…it has too many vegetables for him.” She proclaimed as she stirred the pot with the soup full of glorious winter root vegetables.

“Well, your daughter over there is convinced that you will be making it for her, so I guess at least she will eat it,” I attempted to giggle with her, but babushka was not having any of this. She smirked, and continued stirring even though I asked her to have some wine instead. A babushka has to do what she has to do.

Several bottles of wine and great stories later the large catering kitchen we were in was filled with laughter from all corners of the room and wonderful smells emanating from the stove. Even babushka had relaxed and was laughing along with all the girls. And because it was her birthday, we started our dinner off with singing a loud “Happy Birthday” and all kissed her on the cheek. And then I busted out the soup.

Babushka was impressed. I made her a cup of soup and she instantly fell in love with the earthy flavors and comforting broth. And then once I added in the pistou she was sold.

Everyone was amazed at how the soup had transformed just by adding a simple pistou. They all crowded around the stainless steel tables sipped their wines and dipped their crusty bread into the warm broth. It was a night that ended in smiles and full bellies. My perfect kind of night.

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Cobia Provencal with Tomatoes, Basil and Capers

Cobia is a firm white fish that is buttery and has a mild flavor. This recipe for cobia provencal with tomatoes, basil and capers, demonstrates how well this versatile flaky fish pairs with many types of sauces and seasonings.

I usually buy cobia from the fish market when I visit Florida. Cobia is fished in the gulf waters and any waters that are warm and tropical or subtropical. Fisherman in coastal Florida on the Gulf of Mexico and on the Atlantic coast from Virginia to the Florida Keys catch cobia. In some areas cobia is also known as lemon fish or ling.

For this cobia Provencal with tomatoes, basil and capers sauce, sauté multicolored cherry tomatoes in a little olive oil with garlic. Then add dried oregano and fresh basil and parsley to sharpen the flavors. Once the herbs and vegetables are soft and the flavors begin to blend, add a splash of white wine or stock and a little butter. This produces a creamy velvety finish to the sauce. It almost feels like a beurre blanc except for the tomatoes and capers.

If you cannot get cobia, any mild, flaky fish can be substituted. This Provencal style sauce pairs well with almost anything. Bring a touch of Southern France to your kitchen and your cooking with this savory and colorful sauce and cobia Provencal with tomatoes, basil and capers.

Late-summer barigoule (pictured above)

Barigoule is a provençal style of cooking vegetables in broth, usually artichokes. Here I’ve used late-summer veg, crisped garlic cloves – and a hint of vanilla, which brings a subtle warmth balanced by heady peppercorns, lemony coriander seeds and thyme. I’ve used frozen peas and bulbous salad onions (rather than the thinner spring onions), but if you are making this earlier in the season and fresh peas are around, they are the gold standard. I often finish this with a little of the pistou to the left.

Prep 15 min
Cook 55 min
Serves 6

8 baby carrots with green tops, peeled
Salt and black pepper
½ tsp coriander seeds
3 tbsp olive oil
10 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
4 salad or spring onions, halved
8 bulbs baby fennel, trimmed and halved, or 2 medium heads of fennel, cut into eighths
1.5 litres vegetable stock
10 sprigs thyme
5 whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 handfuls fresh or frozen peas (about 100g)
150g sugar snap peas, halved lengthways
1 small bunch parsley and/or chervil

Boil the carrots in a pan of salted water until still crisp but tender – two to three minutes. Scoop them out and put into a large bowl to cool(I don’t use iced water, because I think it removes a lot of flavour).

Pour out the water and dry the pan. Next, toast the coriander seeds over medium-high heat until fragrant – one to two minutes. Add two tablespoons of oil and cook the garlic until golden – anotherthree to four minutes – then, using a slotted spoon, scoop all this into the bowl with the carrots.

Cook the salad onions and fennel until just golden – eight to 10 minutes – then add to the bowl with the garlic and carrots.

Next, put the stock, thyme, peppercorns, bay leaf and vanilla pod into the pan, and simmer until reduced by half – about 30 minutes. Strain the stock and put it back into the pan. Whisk in the vinegar and the rest of the oil, season, then put back over a medium heat. Stir in all the veg from the bowl, add the peas and sugar snaps, and cook, covered, until the vegetables are heated through– two to three minutes. Divide the veg between bowls and ladle the broth over the top garnish with a few sprigs of herbs, a sprinkling of sea salt and some pistou (see below), if you like.

How to Make Pistou Provencal (South of France vegetable soup)- Hearty, delicious, simple!

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Recipe: Provencal vegetable soup is seasoned with pistou (think pesto), a paste of basil, garlic, and tomatoes

Provencal Vegetable Soup with Pistou (Soupe au Pistou) Sheryl Julian for The Boston Globe

Pistou (from the Provencal dialect for the word pounded) is a paste of basil and garlic traditionally made by hand in a mortar and pestle, then added to soups and stews. Some pistou recipes add egg yolks and olive oil to the paste, others use olive oil and Parmesan and make it similar to pesto, from which it originated. I like a simple version similar to one from the late British cookbook author Elizabeth David: a mixture of basil, garlic, and tomato. I use a charred tomato that has been skinned and seeded and whir the mixture in a food processor.

The soup uses the last of the summer harvest — leeks, green beans, small potatoes, tomatoes — along with angel hair broken up and cooked in the broth near the end. You need peeled tomatoes for both the soup and the pistou, so char them at the same time. The angel hair will expand in the pot and you may need more stock or water to thin the soup if it sits for a while. After simmering, stir in the pistou the broth, which already has lots of flavor, will come to life.

Heartier winter versions of this soup use more root vegetables and dried beans, but this is the best time of year to make a lighter one. Sprinkle bowls generously with grated Gruyere, which will melt on top and give the soup a lovely, nutty taste.

Provencal Vegetable Soup With Pistou (Soupe au Pistou)

1small tomato, cored and halved
2cups packed fresh basil leaves
2cloves garlic
Salt and pepper, to taste
1tablespoon olive oil, or more to taste

1. Set an oven rack about 6 inches from the broiler element. Turn on the broiler.

2. On a rimmed baking sheet, set the tomatoes flat sides down (you should have 3 total: 1 small for the pistou and 2 medium for the soup). Broil the tomatoes for 5 minutes, or until they are charred all over. Cover with foil and leave to cool.

3. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, pull off the skins. Coarsely chop the 2 medium tomatoes and transfer to a bowl with all their seeds and juices for the soup. Seed the remaining small tomato, discard the seeds, and chop the flesh coarsely. Transfer to a food processor for the pistou.

4. Add the basil, garlic, salt, and pepper to the food processor. Pulse the mixture until it forms a smooth paste. Add the oil through the feed tube. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper, or olive oil, if you like.

2tablespoons olive oil
1leek (white and light green part), thinly sliced and well rinsed
2carrots, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
4small red potatoes (1 pound total), cut into ¼-inch dice
2medium tomatoes, cored, halved, charred under the broiler, peeled, and chopped (see Pistou above)
1quart chicken stock
3cups water, or more if needed
3ounces angel hair or other thin egg noodles, broken up in a bowl (2 cups)
¼pound green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
4ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (for garnish)
Extra fresh basil leaves (for garnish)

1. In a soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leek, carrots, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 6 minutes, or until the leek starts to soften. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes.

2. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and their juices. Cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes.

3. Stir in the stock and water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and set on the cover askew. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are almost tender.

4. Add the angel hair or noodles to the pot and return the liquid to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 2 minutes.

5. Add the green beans to the pot and continue cooking for 2 minutes more, uncovered, or until all the vegetables and the noodles are tender.

6. Stir the pistou into the pot. Add more stock or water if the mixture seems too thick. Return to a simmer and turn off the heat. Taste the broth for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with Gruyere. Garnish with fresh basil. Sheryl Julian

Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Make the pistou/ pesto: Add all the pistou ingredients to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse just until coarsely chopped and some pieces of herbs are still visible. Set aside in the refrigerator while the soup simmers. Makes about a heaping cup.

Make the soup: In a large stockpot on medium heat, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Stir in the carrots, leeks, potatoes, celery, onion, garlic, thyme sprigs, Parmigiano rind, if using, salt and pepper. Saute just until softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and cannellini beans, sauteing another 5 minutes.

Stir in the stock, bring to a slow boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender. Skim the foam off the top of the soup. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.

Add the haricot verts and simmer for another 15 minutes. Remove and discard the tied thyme sprigs and Parmigiano rind. Off heat, stir in the cooked pasta.

Just before serving, stir ¼ cup of the prepared pistou into the soup. At the table, serve with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and more pistou.