Soupe au pistou is a traditional vegetable soup from Provence, in the south of France. It is not only a delicious dish, but also a representation of the Mediterranean flavors and ingredients that are characteristic of Provençal cuisine.
This dish gets its name from pistou, an herb emulsion similar to pesto, traditionally made from garlic, basil, olive oil, and sometimes grated cheese, like Parmesan or Pecorino. The sauce is added to the soup just before serving, enhancing its flavor and aroma.
The soup itself is a hearty and wholesome dish made with a variety of seasonal vegetables, beans (such as white beans or kidney beans), and often pasta. The exact ingredients can vary based on what’s available and in season. Some common vegetables used in soupe au pistou include zucchini, tomatoes, green beans, carrots, and potatoes. The vegetables and beans are typically cooked in a flavorful broth until tender.
After the soup is cooked, a spoonful of pistou is added to each serving bowl, allowing diners to stir it in themselves. This imparts a burst of aromatic flavor to the soup as the pistou combines with the vegetables and broth. The combination of fresh vegetables, beans, and the vibrant pistou sauce makes soupe au pistou a comforting and satisfying dish, especially enjoyed during the cooler months.
As is my wont, I add chicken sausage to this dish for without it, it would be quite low in protein. Chicken meatballs wotrk, too (store-bought or homemade). Vegetarians can use more beans and top the soup with a fried or poached egg (or two) for extra protein. Tastes even better after a day or two in the fridge; freezes well.
Soupe au Pistou
- 1 Instant Pot or pressure cooker if you don;t have one of these, you can cook this in a regular pot on the stove-top; it will take about 20-25 minutes cooking time
- 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 4 links fresh chicken sausage equivalent to about 1¼ pounds; I calculated the nturition information for this recipe using Sprouts' sweet Italian chicken sausage
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 medium carrots diced
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 1 medium leek thinly sliced & soaked in a bowl of water, then strained through a sieve or colander
- 8 oz green beans topped, tailed & cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tbsp Herbes de Provence or Italian seasoning
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper freshly ground
- 2 cups tomatoes diced (or one 15-oz can)
- 3 cups chicken bone broth
- 1¾ cups cannellini beans or other white beans, drained & rinsed; equivalent of 1 can
- 1 medium zucchini cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 medium summer squash cut into ½-inch cubes
- a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- 5 tbsp basil pesto here's my favorite brand of classic pesto; and here's a dairy-free, vegan pesto by the same company; here's a recipe for homemade pistou
- 5 tbsp Parmesan cheese freshly grated
- 12-15 fresh basil leaves as garnish
- Warm the olive oil in the InstantPot on SAUTE, HIGH (or cook in a reular stove-top pot). Fry the sausages, turning after 3-4 minutes, until browned on both sides. Remove to a plate and set aside.
- Add onion, garlic, carrots, celery, leek, green beans, Italian seasoning, bay leaves, salt and pepper to the oil remaining in the pot and sauté on HIGH for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add tomatoes and chicken stock and lock the lid. Cancel SAUTE and program on HIGH PRESSURE for 3 minutes. As soon as the cooking time is over, switch the valve to VENTING to quick-release the pressure. (Place a towel over the valve to prevent steam spraying all over you and yoru kitchen.)
- While the vegetables are cooking, cut the cooked sausages into ¼-inch slices. As soon as the pressure has come down and you can open the lid, tip the cannellini beans, sliced sausages, and cubed zucchini & summer squash into the pot and stir to combine. Bring back to a gentle simmer on SAUTE, MEDIUM and cook for 5 minutes until the zucchini are soft.
- Season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve into soup bowls and top each bowl with a tablespoon each of pesto and Parmesan. Garnish with basil leaves and serve immediately. If you don't like eating hot stews in the summer, enjoy this lukewarm. If desired, accomapny with a slice of crusty sourdough toast.
- This soup keeps for 4-5 days in the refrigerator. Can be frozen.