Rest your eyeballs on the deliciousness that is my Soup Au Pistou recipe! I am obsessed (obsessed I say!) over this simple vegetarian soup recipe and I am so completely excited to share it with you today! If you’re not familiar with Soupe Au Pistou, it is a French vegetable and white bean soup topped with Pistou, which is a green paste similar to Italian pesto. My easy recipe here today is incredibly simple to prepare (no labor intensive hand mashing of the pistou, or long cooking of the beans required) and I even have a meal prep option for your Instant Pot! I also have two ingredient variations for you to follow depending on the season you’re making this, with kale and cabbage for the winter months and zucchini and green beans for the summer months!

Soupe au pistou from overhead in a white bowl on a gray pie plate

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If you were to ask me what my favorite thing to cook is, I would definitely say soup. I also happen to believe that learning how to cook soup is the best way to learn how to cook in general! In fact I would say that making soup was one of the ways that I really started to understand the science behind cooking. So if you love soup, and you are interested in learning more about how to cook a great pot of soup, I have all sorts of details to walk you through today. 

Soupe au pistou in a white bowl up close

How Cooking Soup Helps Teach Cooking Skills

If you were to ask me what my favorite thing to cook is, I would definitely say soup. I also happen to believe that learning how to cook soup is the best way to learn how to cook in general! In fact I would say that making soup was one of the ways that I really started to understand the science behind cooking. So if you love soup, and you are interested in learning more about how to cook a great pot of soup, I have all sorts of details to walk you through today. 

Making Homemade Soup Strengthens Knife Skills

  1. If you’re making homemade soup, 9 times out of 10 you’re using a knife to chop some or most of the ingredients. In fact the only soup recipe on my site that doesn’t require any knife skills at all (other than mincing garlic) is my 15 Minute Thai Pumpkin Soup recipe. But other than that, you’ll be using a knife to chop up the ingredients beforehand. 
  2. I actually love chopping the veggies for soup. I find that if my knife is sharp, it can be actually relaxing. I usually make soup on the weekend, and this is a nice time to turn on a podcast and just chill with the veggies. 

Learn about Importance of Mise En Place and Pacing and Ultimately Save Time! 

  1. Cooking soup from scratch is a great way for new cooks to learn about mis en place. If you;re not familiar with what that is, it’s simply a French cooking term for getting all of the ingredients you need ready before you begin.
  2. Because I am usually in a hurry, I like to do two things at once, so I usually pull out all my ingredients and then chop the veggies that I’ll need first (in the case of this Soup au Pistou, that would be the fennel, onion and garlic.) And then I start cooking them while I cut the remaining ingredients. I refer to this as pacing. Knowing that the fennel, onions and garlic will take about 10 minutes is helpful so that’s enough time to chop up the green beans and zucchini. Double tasking like this is is a helpful way to shave 10 minutes off my total time in the kitchen! 

Soups Can Help You Learn about Science of Cookery

  1. This is probably the most important thing that cooking soup has to offer as a way of teaching how to cook. Learning the whys of soup cookery, and following a recipe for soup will help you learn that it is important to first develop flavor with a saute step before adding any liquids. That is because the sugars in the vegetables brown at a temperature HIGHER than that of boiling liquid, so you cannot get browning if there is liquid present. 
  2. For soups that have meats, like my Chicken and Vegetable soup, you’d also want to sear the chicken or meat first to get browning of the meat before the liquid is introduced.
  3. I’ll walk you through all of this below when we discuss how to make this soupe au pistou. But I want to point that out here, because you can apply these principles to other cooking. Even in a recipe as simple as my Simple Skillet Green Beans, first you brown the garlic and green beans, then add the liquid. It’s the same principle! 

Learn about both Taste and Flavor

  1. Here’s the difference between taste and flavor: Taste is the five tastes that your taste buds perceive: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter and Umami. Flavor on the other hand is taste plus the olfactory sense (or scents.) So for example, rosemary- the taste of it is actually bitter, but if you smell it it has a pine like scent that has major flavor! 
  2. When you cook soup from scratch, you learn about layering tastes, flavors and the importance of balancing them. Hitting all five of the tastes is great, and adding in flavor is where it’s at. Again, we’ll go through this in more detail below. But you can apply these principles to all sorts of recipes, including something as basic as a salad dressing, like my  smoky tomato shallot salad dressing. Which has sweet, sour, salty, and lots of flavor from shallot and smoky ingredients! 

Soupe au pistou overhead in two bowls

What is Soupe Au Pistou

Soupe Au Pistou is a traditional Southern French soup usually made with summer fresh veggies like zucchini, tomatoes and green beans that are simmered with slowly simmered white beans and potatoes and usually pasta. The Pistou is a herb paste made from basil, garlic and olive oil (and cheese of some sort.) It’s very much like pesto without the pine nuts.  Soupe Au Pistou is sort of like the French cousin to Minestrone soup with a dollop of pesto on top.

Ingredients For Soup Au Pistou

 

Here are the notes on the ingredients you’ll need for my recipe. Note: the full printable recipe is below. 

  1. Olive Oil: Since you are cooking with the oil, you don’t need your fanciest olive oil. I usually have two different kinds on hand, one from Costco, and a second high quality one that is just for pouring on at the end like in my zucchini ribbon salad. In other words, save that olive oil for times when the delicate flavors won’t get cooked off. 
  2. Garlic: I use fresh garlic and chop it myself. I don’t care for the taste of pre-chopped garlic, nor the preservatives in it. You’ll need 4 cloves for this recipe. 
  3. Fennel: Fennel is a traditional ingredient in soupe au pistou. If you haven’t used it before, you can learn how to cut it here in my recipe for Sheet Pan Roasted Salmon. If you do not like the licorice taste of fennel, feel free to sub in celery instead.
  4. Sweet Onion: Notice I call for sweet onion. That has to do with the above mention interplay of tastes. The sweetness of the onion helps to balance the other tastes in the soup, naturally! 
  5. Red Potatoes: These are a classic ingredient in Soup au Pistou and they work to thicken the soup and give it body. 
  6. Herbes de Provence (or you can use Italian Seasoning): This is all about adding flavor to the soup. The recipe I tried before I started developing this one had ZERO herbs included in the body of the soup and I thought it was entirely boring. I love the way the dried herbs really pep up the flavor of the soup itself! 
  7. Salt and Pepper: This is obvious, I hope! 
  8. Smoked Paprika: I added this because the recipe I tried before developing my own version called for cured pork to be cooked with the dried beans. Since this is a much simpler recipe I added in just a touch of smoked paprika to give the soup a little smoky flavor (no pork required.)
  9. Rosemary: I love the way the rosemary tastes in this soup! It really adds a nice scent to the soup and makes it so much more interesting! 
  10. White Wine: This helps to deglaze the pan, and it also adds tart acidity to balance the tastes. Plus the small amount of alcohol it adds will help to make the flavors stronger. 
  11. Broth (chicken or vegetable): This recipe works with either chicken broth or vegetable broth, depending on your preference. If you do use vegetable broth, I recommend Imagine No Chicken brand for the best flavor. The recipe that I made before working on this did not call for broth, just the cooking liquid of the beans. Since this is a simple recipe with canned beans, the broth really helps to give the soup more flavor for little effort! 
  12. Kale and Cabbage or Zucchini and Green Beans: Since I blog about seasonal ingredients, I wanted you to be able to make this recipe in the winter with what’s in season and vice versa in the summer. Traditional soupe au pistou is only made with summer vegetables, but I love it at this time of year with two of my favorite cold weather veggies: Cabbage and kale
  13. Canned White Beans: Since you and I are busy people, I chose to use a big shortcut in this recipe and call for canned white beans. It saves a ton of time! Half of the beans are mashed to add body to the broth! 
  14. Pesto or Pistou: Again, since you and I are always a bit too busy for our own good, I cut another corner and I’m just calling for purchased pesto or if you have a bunch in your freezer like me, you can thaw some of that. 

 

 


 

a side view of two bowls of soup

How To Make Soupe Au Pistou

First Cut Up Your Veggies

  • You’ll want to cut the onion, garlic and fennel (or celery) right off. Then while you are sauteeing them, you can chop up the seasonal veggies and shred your potatoes.
  • I use shredded potatoes so they will cook super fast and basically break down into the broth of the soup to give it body and thicken it naturally without any additional thickener. When you shred them, hang on to the liquid that they give off. You’ll add that too! 

Sauté The Onion and Garlic with the Fennel

How to Make Soupe Au Pistou- a pot with onions in it

Here is where you’re going to get a ton of added depth of flavor from your soup. I tried making this without sautéing the onion and garlic and the whole recipe fell completely flat! So take my word for it. You’ll just want to cook the vegetables in the pot, this is the pot I use, and make sure you see some darkening before you continue. The onions in particular, because they are high in natural sugar will brown more quickly. Once you see the browning, you’ll be ready for the next step.

Add The Seasoning To Bloom the Flavors

Next add in the dried herbs and smoked paprika to bloom their flavors. The heat will start the activate it and the flavors will carry in the oil. I also add in salt and pepper at this point. 

Deglaze with White Wine

The wine will pick up any bits of fond (browned tasty bits) off the bottom of the soup pot. And as I said above it helps to really punch up the flavor of the soup itself by balancing the tastes. 

Add in the Broth and Other Ingredients 

  • stir the green beans and zucchini into the soup
  • After the wine has reduced, add in the broth. I also add in the rest of the vegetables now. That means either your combo of winter veggies, the cabbage and kale, or your combo of summer veggies, zucchini and green beans. They are fast cooking veggies, so once the soup comes up to a simmer, you’re almost done!! You can also add in the shredded potatoes now which since they’re shredded will cook just as fast.
  • Note: make sure you add as much of the potato liquid as possible. That has starch in it which also helps to thicken the soup.
  • If you are a tomato eater, I would recommend adding a couple small diced tomatoes at this point too. {Aside: I try to limit my tomato eating since they really upset my digestion.}

Simmer Until The Vegetables Are Tender 

I am a big fan of crisp tender veggies, especially green beans, but in the case of Soupe Au Pistou, I actually let them cook until they are tender. I find that the texture is really comforting and pleasing this way. But if you like a crunchier green bean (or kale) then you can cook the soup a little less at this point. 

Mash Canned Beans For More Thick Texture

Mash one can beans to thicken the soup

One of the things I missed about the texture of the soup au pistou made with dried beans is that thick cooking liquid with all the bean starch in it. The potatoes do help to make up for that, but I also found that adding in a can of mashed beans really gave the soup the same slow cooked texture. I also add in one can of drained whole beans too! 

Serve With Pesto or Pistou

Add pistou or pesto at the last minute just before serving

Alright, I know that pesto and pistou are not the same, but friends, I am just trying to get dinner on the table for my busy family, so I went with purchased pesto here. If you want to try making Pistou from scratch, you can use this recipe. I tried it. It was good. Whichever you choose, just dollop a spoonful in the center of each bowl and let the person eating the soup, swirl it in as they want. It really livens up the tastes and flavors! 

 

 

an overhead of a black soup pot with soupe au pistou in it and a bowl of pesto on the side

How To Meal Prep Soupe Au Pistou

I have AMAZING news for you. There is a meal prep option for this recipe!!! Yay!! You can make it in your instant pot or on the stovetop if you don’t have an instant pot. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Freezer Pack: Combine the following in a freezer bag or container:  Your choice of seasonal vegetable medley, fennel, shredded potatoes, herbes de provence, salt, pepper, smoked paprika and rosemary.  Press out the air and freeze the bag flat for up to one month. DO NOT add the garlic and onion to the freezer pack.
  2. Break Up Block: Remove the bag from the freezer and whack it a few times with a rolling pin to break up the ingredients. 
  3. Onion and Garlic: Dice your onion and chop the garlic.
  4. Sauté First: Heat the oil in either your Instant pot on saute mode or in a heavy soup pot over medium-high. Add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring often until the onion is starting to brown, about 7 minutes. Add in the bag of frozen veggies, the wine and the broth.
  5. Instant Pot Directions For Cooking: If you’re using an instant pot: cover and set the valve to sealing. Pressure cook for 3 minutes for green beans and zucchini or 4 minutes for kale and cabbage. 
  6. Soup Pot Directions For Cooking: If you’re using the soup pot: Set heat to high, cover and bring it to a lively simmer, stirring often. This takes 13 to 15 minutes. Remove the lid, reduce the heat to medium or medium-low and let simmer until the mixture is completely thawed and the vegetables are tender about 10 minutes. 
  7. Add Beans Last: Stir in the mashed beans and whole beans as directed in the recipe. Heat through on saute mode or simmer if desired. Serve with Pistou or pesto.  

Here Are More Healthy and Easy Soup Recipes To Try

Smoky Black Bean Soup, this has ham hocks and a vinegar float- inspired by spanish bean soup. 

Slow Cooker Ham and Barley Soup with Spinach Pesto, if you love this soupe au pistou, you have to try this one too! This has more of a Spanish inspired flavor profile. Try it!  

Slow Cooker White Bean Stew with Chicken and Ham is a good one if you’re a big slow cooker fan! It’s so hearty! 

Slow Cooker Kielbasa, Cabbage and Potato Soup, this has so much flavor, you’ll never guess it’s just a set it and forget it recipe! 

Print
a close up of a bowl of soupe au pistou from overhead

soupe au pistou

  • Author: Katie
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 11 cups 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: French

Description

Here is an easy version of Soupe Au Pistou made with canned beans and purchased pesto for a simple fast dinner. Meal prep instructions included and it can be made vegetarian too!


Scale

Ingredients

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 head fennel, diced, or 4 stalks celery, sliced

1 large sweet onion, diced

2 medium red potatoes, peeled and shredded with a box grater

1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence or Italian seasoning blend

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground pepper

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

½ cup dry white wine

5 cups chicken broth, or Imagine no-chicken broth

Seasonal Veggie Medley, see ingredient note

2 14-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

5 tablespoons purchased pesto, or classic Pistou


Instructions

  1. How to Make Soupe Au Pistou- a pot with onions in it
  2. Heat oil in a large heavy bottom soup pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic, fennel (or celery) and onion and cook, stirring often until the onion starts to brown, 9 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add herbes de Provence, salt, pepper and smoked paprika and cook stirring for 30 seconds. Add wine and cook, stirring often until the wine is evaporated about 90 seconds.
  4. stir the green beans and zucchini into the soup
  5. Add in broth, potatoes, rosemary and Seasonal Veggie Medley. Bring to a simmer over high heat, reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
  6. Mash one can beans to thicken the soup
  7. Mash 1 can of beans in a small bowl. Stir mashed and whole beans into the simmering soup.
  8. Add pistou or pesto at the last minute just before serving
  9. Ladle soup into bowls and top with 2 tablespoons pesto or pistou.

Notes

Ingredient Note:

Seasonal Veggie Medley:

For winter variation: 4 cups finely chopped kale plus 1 cup finely chopped green cabbage

For Summer Variation: 2 cups diced zucchini and 1 cup green beans, cut into ½-inch pieces

Make Ahead: Instructions to Meal Prep this recipe and make it in your instant pot:

  1. Combine fennel (or celery), herbes de Provence, salt, pepper, smoked paprika and rosemary in a large resealable freezer bag. Add Seasonal vegetable medley. DO NOT add the garlic and onion to the freezer pack. Press air out of bag, seal shut and freeze flat up to 1 month.
  2. Smash bag with rolling pin or heavy skillet a few times to break up the mixture.
  3. Dice onion and chop garlic.
  4. Heat oil in Heat the oil in either Instant pot on sauté mode or in a heavy soup pot over medium-high. Add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring often until the onion is starting to brown, about 7 minutes.
  5. For Instant Pot: Empty the frozen vegetable mixture into Instant Pot. Add wine and broth and cover with lid. Seal vent and set to pressure cook for 3 minutes for summer vegetables or 4 minutes for winter vegetables. When timer goes off, carefully quick release the steam with a pot holder and tongs. Remove lid and stir. Mash 1 cup beans in a small bowl. Stir the mashed and whole beans into the soup. Rewarm on sauté mode if necessary. Ladle into bowls and top with pesto or pistou.
  6. For Stove Top: Add wine and let simmer one minute. Empty the frozen vegetable mixture into the soup pot. Add broth and cover with lid. Increase heat to high, and bring to a lively simmer, stirring often, 13 to 15 minutes. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir the mashed and whole beans into the soup. Rewarm if necessary. Ladle into bowls and top with pesto or pistou.

Leftover soup keeps refrigerated for up to 4 days. Can be frozen up to three months.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon pesto
  • Calories: 473
  • Sugar: 7 g
  • Fat: 21 g
  • Carbohydrates: 54 g
  • Fiber: 14 g
  • Protein: 18 g
Here is a simple recipe for Soupe Au Pistou made with canned beans and purchased pesto to make it super easy and fast. It has a thick rich body and texture that tastes just like traditional soupe au pistou without all the long cooking times! #easysoup #vegetariansoup #soupeaupistou