Pistou - Vegetable Soup With Basil Sauce

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"This is a delicious wintery soup, served Mediterranean-style with a dollop of aromatic basil sauce (Pistou). Pistou is very similar to Pesto, but doesn't use pine nuts. Sometimes it has no nuts at all, but this version contains walnuts. Some people add the Pistou at the end of the cooking, but I like it best when served on top of the soup directly in the bowl."

Original recipe yields 8 servings


  • Serving Size: 1 (275.2 g)
  • Calories 300.8
  • Total Fat - 20.1 g
  • Saturated Fat - 3.4 g
  • Cholesterol - 89 mg
  • Sodium - 121.4 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate - 21.1 g
  • Dietary Fiber - 4.3 g
  • Sugars - 8 g
  • Protein - 11.4 g
  • Calcium - 143.8 mg
  • Iron - 2.7 mg
  • Vitamin C - 26.4 mg
  • Thiamin - 0.1 mg

To make the basil sauce

Step 1

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the basil, Parmesan cheese, walnuts, tomato paste, and garlic until puréed. Add the 5 tablespoons of olive oil and pulse until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Place in a container, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the soup

Step 2

Carefully rinse the canned beans twice in cold water, and drain. Set aside.

Step 3

In a large nonreactive pan (I use my Le Creuset dutch oven), heat the 1/4 cup of olive oil over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes, or until they release their juice.

Step 4

Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the carrots and leeks and simmer for 10 minutes.

Step 5

Add the string beans and the cannellini beans and simmer for 3 minutes.

Step 6

Add the zucchini, vermicelli, celery leaves, and saffron and simmer for 5 minutes until the pasta is tender.

Step 7

Test for seasoning and adjust.

Step 8

Ladle the soup into warm soup bowls. Add a small dollop of the basil sauce to each bowl. Serve with the remaining basil sauce on the side.

Instead of a dollop of basil sauce in the individual bowls, you can add 2 Tablespoons of the sauce to the soup pot in step #9.

If you float a 1/4 inch layer of olive oil over the basil sauce and keep it covered and refrigerated, it will keep for up to 2 weeks.

Tips & Variations

No special items needed.