Cooking Lesson in Provence

How To Make Soupe au Pistou!

Soupe au Pistou is a Provencal dish (and a real treat). It’s a vegetable soup laced (read: filled) with a garlic and basil pesto. Everyone has different recipes for it. Bliss Travels recipe is below. We taught it to a group last May, and they loved it. Of course, they picked herbs on a farm in Provence, sat outside, using a “summer kitchen” and drank wonderful rose! Dinner was served on a terrace, by candlelight, and everyone thought it a great success. Needless to say, people were happy!

My preference is to use a small amount of potato for the starch, rather than the slightly less traditional pasta. I do this because the potato essentially dissolves and the starch thickens the broth. Pasta doesn’t do this. And pasta will continually expand and “eat up” all of the liquid in your soup. This soup is better, better, best room temperature after sitting a few days. Yum! Serve it with a roast Camembert (not at all Provencal) or some local sausages and bread (much more “local”) and have a wonderful evening in and “from” the garden!

Soupe au Pistou

4 Medium Leeks, white and light green only, thinly sliced

12 ounces onion, thinly sliced

12 ounces carrots, cut into quarters and thinly slice

1 to 1 ½ pounds of potatoes, thinly sliced

Bay leaf

Thyme, 1 stick celery

12 ounces or more of haricots verts and other varieties of green beans

2-3 zucchini, sliced thinly

2 Tomatoes, finely chopped


4 cloves of garlic

3 plus ounces of Basil leaves


3 ounces of grated parmesan cheese

Approximately one cup of Olive oil

Lemon, if desired

Cook first six ingredients in large stock pot in salted water at slow boil for approximately 30 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook another 30 minutes. Reserved tomatoes until cooking is finished. This soup is not finished if the potato and zucchini haven’t decomposed into the soup.

Let soup cool. It is best to let soup rest for several hours if possible. Make pesto. Using a food processor, place garlic and parmesan in processor and pulse. Add Basil, pulse once or twice. Add oil in slow stream and season with salt, pepper and lemon.

Add 2/3 of the Pistou into the soup, along with the chopped tomato.  The remainder can be served on the side as a condiment along with shredded parmesan cheese. Taste soup and correct seasoning. The soup can be served hot or room temperature, and is better the next day.

Recipe by Wendy Jaeger of Bliss Travels… French culinary travel

2 comments on “Cooking Lesson in Provence

  1. Anita Mac says:

    Sounds devine! Imagine it tastes even better in Provence!

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