Sunday, January 9, 2011

Provençal Vegetable Soup (Soupe au Pistou)

I hope you're not getting too tired of soup yet, we're not!  Today, is a typical January day in Wisconsin...cold!  Therefore, sitting down to a warming bowl of soup at night is wonderful. 

Not only do we love steamy bowls of soup on a cold winter evening, we also love the idea that we are eating healthier with lower calories. Soup is filling and yet lower in calories than a regular meal. When we do have soup as our main course, I try to make sure that it contains some beans for protein.

This recipe was inspired by a recipe for Provençal Vegetable Soup in my new The Soup Bible cookbook and also, the latest issue of House Beautiful features a similar recipe from the new cookbook The French Country Table by Laura Washburn. I can't wait to get my hands on this new cookbook! Both recipes sounded wonderful, so, in my usual fashion,  I combined my favorite parts of both.  

Pistou soup is a filling meal on its own, but in some regions of France they add cubed bacon, grilled Toulouse sausages or ham. Yum! Like many other traditional Provençal recipes, there are many versions of this soup. Sometimes leeks are used and some leave out potatoes. Sometimes pasta is used and sometimes not. Some add the pistou sauce before serving the soup; some hand it round separately so that people can add as much or as little as they like.

The difference between this and other vegetable soups is the addition of a 'pistou', which is a flavorful paste made with fresh basil leaves, garlic and olive oil.  It elevates vegetable soup from ordinary to sublime!  If you love basil or pesto you cannot omit this step!

Since I had some home made pesto in the freezer made from my garden basil last summer, I used that instead of making fresh pistou.  My pesto had pine nuts in it which is not included in pistou but it tasted wonderful anyway.

Provençal Vegetable Soup (Soupe au Pistou)
Inspired by Soupe au Pistou from House Beautiful Magazine, January 2011 issue and Provençal Vegetable Soup from The Soup Bible
Printable Recipe

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 small fennel bulb, quartered, cored, and cut into small dice
2 zucchini, cut into small dice
4 red potatoes, cut into small dice
1/2 cup celery root (celeriac) cut into small dice
2 small carrots, peeled and cut into very small dice
1 large clove of garlic, minced
3 Roma tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped*
2 32-oz containers no-sodium chicken stock
2 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
6 ounces of green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces (I didn't use)
1/2 cup baby peas, either fresh or frozen and thawed
2 ounces of spaghetti, broken into pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Pistou (or use your frozen home made pesto)

4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup of packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese (optional) (Parmesan can also be sprinkled over the top of the soup)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Heat the oil in a large stockpot. Add the onion, fennel, and zucchini and saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until softened. Add the potatoes, celery root and carrots and saute for another 10 minutes. Add the stock, thyme, beans and tomatoes and simmer, covered for about 15 minutes longer. Add the green beans, peas and spaghetti and simmer for another 10-15 minutes until pasta is tender.**

To make the pistou, place the garlic, basil, olive oil and Parmesan (if using) in the bowl of a small food processor or blender and process until blended.

Ladle the hot soup into serving bowls, top with a dollop of pistou and a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Pass additional pistou at the table, if desired.

*To easily peel the tomatoes, bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Have ready a large bowl of ice water. Plunge the fresh tomatoes into the simmering water for about 2 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon to the ice water bath.

**It is ideal if you can make the soup in the morning and refrigerate until ready to serve so that the flavors can meld.


If you need a little encouragement to make soup, here are a couple of scenes from a typical Wisconsin winter!


  1. I love soup, especially this time of year. I make at least one soup a week it seems. Yours looks so good - love the place setting too! And how did you do that first winter picture? It's so pretty!

  2. Looks like another winner! I think I can see the you make a big batch so you can freeze some?
    Keep 'em coming!

  3. You know we love soupe du jour too! This looks soo good Susan..It's a great idea to use your homemade pesto..Pretty pretty pics..the collages too..Love the studio as always:)

    I love the aroma in the house too..we had carrot and turmeric for's chilly here too...

  4. Thank you, Megan! The frames are Photoshop actions templates from Mike Warren ( Fun and easy to use if you have Photoshop.

    Barb, we usually finish it over the course of 2-3 days so no freezing. I'm terrible at using frozen leftovers anyway!

    Carrot and turmeric soup sounds like a delicious soup du jour, Monique!

  5. Susan, I made a very similar soup last winter for the first time, and we loved it! Love your mosaics ;o)

  6. Susan your soup looks so good!! Living in NC our winters are not suppose to be as bad as up North (I grew up in the Chicago area, but have lived in Southern States for 32 years!) but this year we have already had a big snow and in the next day we are getting snow and a ice storm :( Guess what I am making tomorrow SOUP :) My husband has requested his favorite Italian Wedding Soup -- I am using Ina Garten's recipe its a good one! Thanks for sharing this recipe I will be making it soon.

  7. wow what a soup perfect for your snowy weather

  8. Soup weather here in Nebraska for sure! We love soup and eat it an awful lot in the winter months. Your soup looks terrific. I made a pot of Martha Stewart's Big Batch Vegetable Soup this weekend - YUM!!


  9. Hi, I live a few hours north of you in Wisconsin, and just stumbled upon your blog, Susan.

    You have created what I hoped to when I started blogging, but life kind of got in the way for me.

    I will return!

  10. Love your mosaic! Looks very cold...
    I make soup much more in the winter, but as Mike doesn't have a weight problem, he likes it for lunch.
    And you know me with beans and vegetables! :)
    How did you make the c that way in the title?

  11. Thank you, Debbie! Glad to hear you've already enjoyed this type of soup.

    Kendra, I don't think I remembered that you were lived in Chicago! I've read about your snow in NC and have seen the photos! Crazy weather.

    Thank you Rebecca and Gail!

    Hello, Mimi! Glad to meet another Wisconsin blogger!

    Kathleen, I just copied and pasted from the internet! I didn't remember blogger titles taking accent marks before either but it seems it works now!

  12. Thank you for visiting from A Writer' Kitchen. And your kind words. Yes, you can freeze them and they are easy to peel, the skin slides right off.

    I know I will return again and again. I see some cute stuffed eggs, I have never thought to stuff them that way and your dumpling chicken soup. That will be a southern fav here.

    YOU do have some snowy winteres. Lovely photos!

    We are getting a taste of snow right now, wonder what it will be like come morning.

    Till we meet again, Stay warm.

  13. That's the perfect cold weather soup, and it sounds delicious. Thank you for sharing your recipe with us.

    Happy Seasonal Sunday...


    Sheila :-)

  14. Fabulous mosaic, love the pictures. Thanks for the recipe for the soup, looks great.

  15. Tis the season for warm vegetable soups. This looks great, I like the idea of adding a dolloping of pesto to round out the flavors. Stay warm!

  16. What beautiful colors in your soup...Love the wonderful wintry looking mosaics!

  17. I really loved Wisconsin when we visited there this past summer...but since I am anti-winter these days I'll just enjoy those memories...This soup looks perfect...I love soups!!!
    Have a wonderful week!!!

  18. Ah, I smell pistou simmering now. Several years ago we rented a house in Provence with a parttime chef who introduced us to this savory soup. It quickly became a favorite and is a great way to use bits that are in the fridge.

  19. I absolutely love soup like this filled chock full with beans and vegetables. Love pistou, too, but never have made it! Now I guess I need to! We never tire of soup! In fact we are on a soup-every-evening diet!

  20. Susan, we are big soupers here -- I have not heard of this kind of soup and I should have been freezing my pesto too from this summer -- let so much basil go to waste. It's always a pleasure to see what you have been cooking up. Love the outdoor pics too. Joni

  21. I adore soupe au pistou! I discovered it while I lived in Aix-en-Provence as a student. It is a classic that will never go out of style, or taste. Wonderful and so right of you to make it the proper, authentic way!

  22. Thanks for the recipe for the soup, it looks very tasty. Fabulous mosaics, lovely photos.

  23. Never tire of soup; it is our lunch every noon. this one is healthy and a great idea to add fennel. I must try that next time. Like you, I store my pesto in the freezer for the winter months; so handy. Perfect photo as always.

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. love at first sight! I love this provencal soup, looks tasty! Wonderful mosaics...fairytale landscape in Wisconsin...a warm hug...

  26. Such a lovely soup, Susan! And photographed so beautifully. It's difficult to do too, but I adore your china and it certainly sets off this delicious dish!
    I don't make as many soups as I'd like, but am copying this one!

  27. Keep those soup recipes coming!!!!! :D :D :D

  28. Today here in Sicily is sunny and not too cold...but I would like to taste a cup of this warm good provencal soup...have a nice week, hugs, Flavia

  29. My larges recipe file is the one containing soups! We love them hot in winter and cold in summer. And your recipe looks delicious--a meal in a bowl.

    I can certainly identify with your photos--they could be mine!!


  30. Beautiful mosaic, Susan! And such perfect soup for this soup weather!

  31. I'm warming up already! The soup looks wonderful and makes me want to run to the kitchen to get a pot started. You see, we are in for the coldest weather so far this winter. It's due tonight, so this soup will be perfect for our supper. Thanks so much.

    Your mosaics definately look wintery...well done!

  32. Soup is good all year around but it warms my heart to have it in the winter. Yuumy. LLLLLOOOOVVVEEE the photos!

  33. Hi Susan, I'm living on soup lately - it's my meal of choice in the winter. Also, I grew one of my basil plants in a big old re-purposed kettle last summer and simply brought it inside before frost. It is flourishing on my kitchen counter in front of a window. Good thing for me, because I'm making this soup for tonight's meal.'s snowing outside as I write this! Have a beautiful day!

  34. Soup is one the healthiest ways to enjoy a combination of vegetables and proteins. A great recipe!

  35. Tired of soup? Nah. I think I've actually become MORE enamored with it has time has gone on. This looks delicious and is full of such healthy ingredients! Love it.

  36. I'm with Joanne... never tired of soup in the winter.. it makes everything feel warmer and more like a home! Pistou is a wonderful sauce... takes a soup to a next level, doesn't it? Now I need to get a basil plant to last more than a week inside!

  37. This looks so good, Susan. I have fresh pesto in my freezer so I can also use that.
    I love making soup and I'm always looking for new recipes. I have to buy a copy of the Soup Bible cookbook! :)
    your winter mosaics are lovely!

  38. Your soup is so lovely for the beautiful wintery views. I love all your pictures especially the way your presented your nicely cooked soup in your beautiful crafted dinnerware :D

  39. This looks fabulous and can you get tired of a great soup?!! I have a recipe like this that adds pesto to a tortellini soup. Love it. I am absolutely salivating over your sidebar's appetizers and goodies. I need to go eat!

    I am home and spent all day putting Christmas away, but as I was moaning my daughter told me to turn on the Christmas music like I do when I decorate and I had a great day undecorating! Who knew?
    Thanks for the belated birthday wishes! Joni and I were just laughing because I had told my birthday on my blog and my daughter told me I shouldn't do that for identity theft so I edited the Cabo post and then Joni posted it anyway!!!

  40. the soup looks wonderful! I may have to make it for dinner tonight...

  41. You are all wonderful! Thanks so much for the comments!

  42. Oh...I never tire of a good bowl of soup! This one looks just beautiful!

  43. Soups are always welcome, whole year round! Wholesome delicious goodness in every spoonful! Looks really good.

  44. Snow and freezing rain are forecast today so I'm running out soon to get a few groceries. This recipe is just what I've been looking for, Susan. I have some pesto in the freezer too, good thinking.

  45. Could never be tired of soup in the cold weather. Looks delicious.

    Beautiful photos (although I have to say that I am not sad that our snow has gone now!)

  46. oh yummy! this looks so good. thank you for sharing this and have a great day.

  47. Oh that looks so good! Nothing like a good bowl of soup on a cold day!

  48. Soup is a staple in my kitchen, too! So healthy and warming on those cold winter days.

  49. My family LOVED your Minestrone Soup. I added some ground beef and doubled the pasta for a hearty meal my boys would love.

    I am making it again today to take to a luncheon tomorrow. It will be a StoneGable favorite for sure!!!!

    I am going to try this soup too. I'm dubbing you the "soup queen", and from me that is a high compliment!

  50. this looks yummy...i am a sucker for soup!

  51. Susan, yo quiero el caldero entero.

    Soup Pistou is what I made a few days ago. It was my first time making this soup, and it won't be the last.
    The name: 'Soupe au Pistou' sounds heavenly, and it lives up to its name!

    Btw, I've been on a soup and salad kick for weeks, so, there's no need to steer away from soups; your photos are as warm and comforting they appear.

  52. Wow..Thank you, all!

    Yvonne, that is high praise indeed! I hope to wear my crown with honor ;)

    Sol, I had to use Google Translate! I got the 'yo quiero' and 'entero' but didn't know what 'el caldero' was. Sorry, el caldero está vacía.

  53. This soup looks delicious, I never tire of soups, especially in the Winter! Please keep on posting these delicious and inspiring recipes! I can't wait to try this! Oh, it looks so elegant in your bowls also! Ciao!


  54. Definitely not tired of soup- it's still cold here and nothing warms you up quite as nicely as a nice hearty bowl of hot soup. This one looks so good- love the pistou on top. :)

  55. i read that 49 of the 50 states had snow today, so to answer your question.. NO! We are FAR from tired of soups!

    looks delicious!

  56. What could be more perfect admidst all of this SNOW?

    Thanks for being a part of Seasonal Sundays.

    - The Tablescaper

  57. Is it possible to tire of soup? I think not.

    Have you seen Lydia's (of The Perfect Pantry) new food blog, Soup Chick? She does all soup, all the time. This would make a great addition to one of her Saturday round-ups!

  58. So, our winters LOOK fairly similar. To you get HIGH snowbanks? This is the first year in years and years we have them. Such fun to drive on. I love the look of this soup. I think of pesto on salads and soups in the summer. Who knows why. Because they taste so fresh and Spring-like, I guess... and yet, this makes perfect sense! What a bright lively zippy bowl of loveliness in the middle of a dreary cold day. I love all kinds of soups and can not resist any!

  59. I don't usually eat soup, but in this time of year...soups are just lovely! The view outside your window looks so beautiful...there ain't many snow this month here...a bit too mild for January.

  60. Looks delicious and perfect for a cold day in the Midwest!

  61. I'm still not used to the cold since I've been back in forever Summer land for 2 months =( time for some soups! This looks and sounds lovely!


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