Pic of Soupe au pistou

Soupe au pistou

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Soups & stews

Soupe au pistou

Soup Serves 5 1h 20 min
There are literally hundreds of recipes for this soup and its Italian counterpart, minestrone. The bare essentials are haricot beans, onion, celery, and tomato; beyond these you can use pretty much any soup-friendly vegetable you like. The pistou sauce is a lovely addition. Italian pesto is essentially the same sauce, and if you want to cut corners use some good from a jar. This soup reheats well.



  • 100g dried haricot beans, soaked in cold water overnight, then cooked (use tinned beans if pressed for time)
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, finely sliced
  • 1 or 2 leeks, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 100g potatoes, diced
  • a few carrots or a turnip, diced
  • 2 courgettes, diced (optional)
  • 100g runner or French beans, sliced

for the pistou

  • bunch fresh basil
  • handful pine nuts (optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste with a little salt
  • 100g Parmesan, freshly grated
  • 150ml olive oil
  • salt and pepper


Prep time: 20 min
Cooking time: 1h


  • Step 1

    if you are cooking the beans yourself, first soak them overnight - half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in the water will help soften the skins.
  • Step 2

    Simmer, covered with unsalted water, for 30 minutes-1 hour, or until just tender, removing the scum from the surface occasionally.
  • Step 3

    You can add a garlic bulb cut in half to the cooking water if you like. Add a little salt at the end and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
  • Step 4

    To make the soup, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan, add the onion, celery and leeks and cook slowly for about 15 minutes, until soft but not coloured.
  • Step 5

    Add the sliced garlic and cook briefly. Stir in the tomatoes, turn up the heat and add the potatoes, carrot and turnips.
  • Step 6

    Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Step 7

    Add the courgettes and beans, plus enough water just to cover. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Step 8

    Add the cooked haricot beans with enough of their cooking liquor to give a soupy consistency. Season to taste.

Make the pistou

  • Step 1

    Whiz all the ingredients together in a food processor, then stir into the soup.

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