Winter Soup au Pistou

Written by Eydie Desser

Soup au Pistou is a French Provencal vegetable soup, usually served in the late spring and early summer with bountiful in-season vegetables (green beans, potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini and basil). . Pistou is the French term for the Italian Pesto, pounding and grinding basil, pine nuts, garlic and salt in a mortar & pestle. It is said that this classic Provençal soup was created in the 18th century by a duchess in order to seduce a marquis. It’s Valentine’s Day and I wanted to woo my husband! So I made a winter style Soup au Pistou using flavorful in-season veggies along with a “winter” Pistou made with walnuts and parsley. Watch out, this soup really works!


For the Soup:

  • 1 yellow onion (12 oz.), finely chopped
  • 1 small leek, white & light green parts, cleaned and thinly sliced ( ¼ cup)
  • 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced (¼ cup)
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced (1-1/2 TB)
  • 1 medium sized orange fleshed sweet potato, peeled and diced to ½” (1 cup)
  • 1 small turnip, peeled and diced to ½” (1 cup)
  • 2-3 medium sized carrot, cleaned and sliced in ¼” rounds (1 cup)
  • 1 small parsnip, cleaned and sliced in to ¼” rounds (¼ cup)
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced to ¼” pieces (¼ cup)
  • 14 oz. (½ of the box) no salt chopped tomatoes, reserve remaining tomatoes 
  • 6 cups vegetable stock (enough to cover vegetables by 2”)
  • 1-14oz. can no salt added cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup sugar snap peas or snow peas, strings removed, cut in 1/2

For the Winter Pistou:

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ peeled red onion finely diced
  • 20 sprigs of parsley, leaves only
  • 6 oz. chopped tomato, drained
  • 4 oz. roughly chopped walnut halves
  • 1 tsp. Red pepper flakes
  • 2 TB Freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste


Make the Winter Pistou:

1- Place all the ingredients, (except the lemon juice), in a mortar & pestle and grind together to a paste. Alternatively, place all the ingredients (except the onion as it will get watery) in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the mixture until thoroughly combined. Add onion and pulse just a few times until incorporated. Add lemon juice to taste. Reserve.

Make the Soup:

1- Heat a 5-qt pot, over medium high heat for a couple of minutes or until hot. Pour in onion, leek, fennel and garlic and dry saute for 1 minute, lower the heat to medium low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until vegetables are starting to soften. If needed, add a little stock to prevent the vegetables from sticking to the pot.

2- Add the diced sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnip, celery, tomatoes and stock.
Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through and tender when pierced with a knife.
Add beans and sugar snap peas or snow peas and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes.

To Serve:

Ladle soup into pretty bowls and place a large dollop of Pistou on top.

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