Soup au Pistou

DSCN0394For Three Kings Day one of my presents was a DVD with six episodes of Julia Child’s TV show the French Chef. I was very excited because although I’ve read about her, seen clips and SNL skits, visited her kitchen at the Smithsonian, and watched Julie and Julia, I had never actually seen her cook. The DVD is in black and white so it’s hard to excited about how the food looks, but she is just lovely. She was the perfect balance between authoritative (where I trust her) and casual (where I feel like I can do it too).

The first recipe I watched was for soup au pistou and I knew it was the perfect winter soup. Yes, it calls for green beans and basil so technically it might be more of a spring soup, but it’s everything I want right now. It’s cold, it’s windy, and sometimes dreary and I want soup. This soup is hearty without being heavy, full of vegetables, and the pistou (kind of like a pesto) gives the broth a robust flavor.

Now, this recipe is adapted from Julia Child’s for a few reasons. First, she used just water in her broth. I used a mix of water and chicken broth because I had an open container of broth in the fridge that had to be used. You could definitely use all water, more chicken broth, or even vegetable broth. Second, Julia calls for either leeks or onions and I used a mix of both. The reason being my leeks didn’t go as far as I thought they would.

The third adaptation is that Julia has a beautiful gilded soup tureen and I do not. Does anyone have a soup tureen anymore? Julia makes the pistou, then puts it in the soup tureen, and then slowly mixes in the soup from her pot. It looked beautiful, but… really? Since I don’t have a soup tureen do I really need to use two pots? I don’t think so, and I’ve come up with my own solution for those of us lacking in a soup tureen. If you have a soup tureen, I’d love to know it. Send me a picture or write in the comments below!


3 quarts liquid (water, chicken broth, or vegetable broth)

2 cups diced waxy potatoes (I used Yukon gold)

2 cups diced carrots

2 cups diced leeks, or onions, or a combination of the two

1 tbsp salt

1 15oz can of white navy beans, drained

1/3 cup broken spaghetti (Julia used orzo, I just smashed up some pasta)

2 cups green beans, cut to 1″ length

ground black pepper


4 cloves crushed garlic (I just minced 4 cloves of garlic then smushed them a bit)

4 tbsp tomato paste

1/4 cup chopped basil

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup olive oil (or a little more or less to your liking. Julia Child said between 1/4-1/2 cup)


Prep step: Chop all your vegetables!


1. Bring liquid, potatoes, carrots, leeks/onions, and salt to a boil in a large pot (6 quart pot would be best).

2. Once it’s come to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 35 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.

3. Add beans and spaghetti. Let them cook for about 10 minutes.


4. Right after you’ve added the beans and spaghetti, make the pistou. Place the garlic, tomato paste, basil, and Parmesan cheese in a large bowl. Use a wooden spoon or pestle and mash up the ingredients until you form a lumpy paste. Then, slowly, about a teaspoon at a time, mix in the olive oil. Add olive oil until you have something the consistency of pesto. I used about a 1/3 of a cup in total oil. Set aside until soup is finished.


5.  Add the green beans. Cook for 5-10 minutes. You want them to be a bit crunchy, but cooked through. Basically, stay away from mushy green beans.

6. When soup is done, add 1-2 cups of soup to your pistou. Whisk the soup and pistou until smooth. Then, gently pour the pistou soup into the rest of the soup post. Mix that together until the broth is a beautiful red-orange color throughout.

7. Serve and enjoy!


1 spoonMessy level: Honestly, for the number of ingredients, I’m surprised to give this recipe 1 spoon. There is so little mess! All I had to do was chop, heat, and mix. You’ll end up with very few dishes and almost no splatter. This recipe is a winner!


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