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Soupe au Pistou

Yield 4
Much like pesto, its Italian cousin, French pistou is a mixture of basil, garlic, and olive oil. Here we stir some into a hearty Provençal soup made with vegetables, potatoes, beans, and pasta and spoon the rest on top.


  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 zucchini (about 1/2 pound), quartered lengthwise, cut crosswise into thin slices
  • 1/4 pound green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 pound boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 1/2 cups drained canned diced tomatoes (one 15-ounce can)
  • 1 quart canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup drained and rinsed canned white beans, preferably cannellini
  • 1/2 cup elbow macaroni or other small pasta
  • 3 small cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves

How to Make It

  1. In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini, green beans, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes longer.

  2. Add the potatoes, tomatoes, broth, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add the beans, pasta, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Continue simmering until the vegetables are tender and the pasta is cooked through, about 10 minutes longer. Remove from the heat.

  3. Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, puree the garlic, basil, and the remaining 4 tablespoons oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir 1/4 cup of this pistou into the soup. Serve the soup topped with the remaining pistou.

  4. Wine Recommendation: A good German riesling will cut through the richness of the soup and refresh your palate with its lively flavor. Try a kabinett or spätlese wine, preferably halbtrocken (on the dry side).

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