The Key to Soupe au Pistou: Lots of Vegetables

In the South of France, this hearty soup can vary from village to village. Just keep the ingredients fresh and flavorful.

Comments: 14

  1. This is the first recipe I have seen for this sourp which omits tomato.

  2. Eight years slurping up the best soupe au pistou in Provence and have never come across a potato dedans!!

  3. To BB Kuett Venasque:
    Regional tendencies are strong in adding local ingredients. I would not be surprised to see a US recipe of soupe au pistou that would include corn, beans, chickpeas, squash, and turnip.

  4. This might be a good tasting soup, but soups au pistou it is not.
    Tomatoes, garlic, lots of basil, beans potatoes, and pasta.
    That's soups au pistou.
    Pistou is pasta.
    I experienced the soup in a home I in which was a guest in aix en Provence.
    It was exhilarating to inhale the aroma of the soup, which created an appetite in anticipation of sitting down to enjoy it.
    Also, since when do you chill Rose wine with soupe au pistou?
    In France wine is not chilled. And Rose is too fragile for soupe au pistou.
    I suspect the author remained in Paris, eating out of a can, reading the label for this article.
    This article does not do justice to the traditions represented in that magnificent, simple dish.

  5. Where I live In Provence half of each year, pistou refers to the pesto sauce which is added just before serving and is passed at the table for guests to add more to taste. The ingredients depend on the individual cook and what looks good in the market, though shell beans, courgettes and aromatics are standard. Green beans are usually included, as well. There may be lively debate at the table as to which ingredients make the best soup au pistou, but mostly people just pass the pistou and enjoy.

  6. @ Richard Massie

    No, no, no. Pistou is French for pesto - which in turn derives from the Genovese
    Italian word meaning 'pounded'. Trust me, I hail from an Italian town located halfway between Genova and Nice. I make my minestrone with string beans, celery, carrots, potatoes, zucchini, and canned shelled beans - good luck finding fresh. And of course pasta, small-cut, like mini rigatoni. Never tomatoes.
    Pesto and a drizzle of olive oil after the soup is poured into bowls is a nice finishing touch.

    PS Pasta in French is 'pates'.

  7. "Pistou is pasta" ? Do I understand correctly ? If the provençal term "pistou" is related to any Italian word, that would be "pesto". Both words have the same indo-european root, "peis" (to crush), which also gave the English word "pestle". As Mr Tanis says in the recipe, the basil (also called pistou in Provence), should be crushed in a mortar, using a pesle. Purists claim that a food processor would heat the basil and destroy the subtle aromas of the herb. (This, I will not confirm).
    As for the vegetables, and the addition of pasta or not, as is the case with many traditional regional dishes, whatever you choose to do, someone will say you're doing it wrong, because his/her mother/ grandmother/favorite chef knew the real, genuine, authentic recipe and did it differently.
    Of course, eating canned soup au pistou is similar to having a small black and white photograph of the Grand Canyon. It gives you an idea of what the real thing looks like, but it's still quite different.

  8. It is all about innovation and being able to substitute as to what is available at the times and relative cost. I find it easier to use fast frozen fresh vegetable and even soup mixes sold in my local supermarket 12 Oz size for a dollar. I buy selectively these kind of vegetable. Then at other times find many seasonal vegetable only weekly sale for 99 cents a pound. These are just not for making soups, but can be sauteed by them selves and or mixed like in stir fired. The next day the left overs used for soup. I grow various types of herbs in may garden that include several types of basil, thyme, tarragon, cilantro, mint, chives ( onion and garlic ), rosemary, dill. sage, marjorm, oregano,chervil, sorrel. The best additional for these soups is sliced mushrooms, ginger, pine nuts ( I prefer Italian verity ) etc. etc. Plus more use of olive oil, rather then butter. Then again, it just does not have to be just vegetable alone. Poultry, shell and other fish, beef, lam, ham etc can also be added. Realistically, there is no limit what one can add as per what is available at the time and place.

  9. It's too late tonight to look for it but the New York Times published a recipe from the wonderful Craig Claiborne for Pistou which is delicious. Perhaps it resides somewhere in the archives. I recommend it.

  10. I know it's blasphemy, but could this work with good canned cannellini beans?

  11. Nice was once part of the region of Liguria ; the capital of Liguria is Genoa, so of course the dishes are simpler.

  12. As many have noted, this is not an authentic Pistou. No tomatoes? Please.

    The point of authenticity is not to confine our tastes but to set a standard. That's the basis of tradition. From there, of course, improvise, improve, knock yourself out. But let's keep the standards intact, that’s what they’re for.

    Julia Child's original mission was to convert recipes to foods available in the American Market of 1960. I've always maintained that this is like trying to adapt the St. Matthews Passion to a barber shop quartet.

    Olney, yes. But, he knew that Child was not an authority, but a television performer.

  13. This soup is not pistou, neither in the peculiar way it is made
    nor in the taste.