La soupe au pistou

A basil puree adds zest to a hearty vegetable soup in Celia Brooks Brown's recipe for a classic French dish
By Celia Brooks Brown
La soupe au pistou
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Effort: easy



  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 leek, white only, finely sliced
  • 4 sticks celery
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 2 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1000 g selection of seasonal vegetables, diced or sliced
  • 400 g tinned haricot beans, drained and rinsed
  • Provençal bouquet garni, (thyme and rosemary sprigs, a bay leaf and orange peel tied with cotton string)
  • 1000 ml water
  • black pepper

For the pistou

  • 2 clove garlic, degermed and chopped
  • coarse sea salt
  • 20 basil
  • 4 tbsp finely grated parmesan
  • 8 tbsp olive oil


1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan. Add in the leek, celery, onion and garlic and fry gently, stirring frequently, until tender, about 10 minutes.

2. Add in the seasonal vegetables and Provencal bouquet garni and fry gently, stirring now and then, for 5 minutes.

3. Add the water, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes. Discard the bouquet garni before serving.

4. Meanwhile, make the pistou. Pound the garlic and salt in a mortar until smooth. Add in the basil leaves, Parmesan cheese and olive oil and work to a smooth paste. Alternatively, blend the garlic, salt, basil, Parmesan and olive oil in a spice grinder or blender into a paste.

5. Ladle the vegetable soup into six bowls and garnish each serving with a generous spoonful of pistou.

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