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This classic French summertime soup is filled with our favorite flavorsome vegetables, infusing the water with so much flavor that there’s no need for broth.

Called soupe au pistou, this is France’s nut-free take on pesto, brimming with basil, garlic, pepper, and parmesan. Should you need a substitute for Romano beans, cannellini and Great Northern will do in a pinch. It’s best served immediately; and the aroma is so enticing that will hardly be a problem.

How to Make It

Difficulty: Easy

Overall Time: 1 hr 50 min

Prep Time: 15 min

Cook Time: 1 hr 35 min

Serves: 4



  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts, sliced and rinsed
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • ½ fennel bulb, chopped
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¾ cup dried Romano beans, soaked overnight, then drained and rinsed
  • Parmesan rind (optional)
  • 1 large tomato, cored and chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • Handful of green beans, trimmed and quartered crosswise


  • 1 small garlic clove
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  1. For the soup, heat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add leeks, celery, carrots, fennel and salt. Season with pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are translucent, approximately 5 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and bay leaf. Cook and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Add 6 cups water, soaked white beans and Parmesan rind, if using. Bring to a boil over high, then reduce to a medium. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.
  3. Add tomato, zucchini and green beans. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until white beans are completely tender, about 25 to 35 minutes more. Remove and discard bay leaf and Parmesan rind. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. While soup simmers, make the pistou by adding garlic and salt to a mortar or bowl of a food processor. Crush with pestle or pulse until minced. Add basil, then crush or pulse until a paste forms. Add oil and Parmesan, then stir or pulse until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 5 days.
  5. To serve, ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with a spoonful of pistou and more olive oil or Parmesan, if desired.

Kitchen Tip

To take a shortcut, replace the dry beans with a 796-mL can of beans. Add the whole can, including liquid, along with the water and Parmesan rind, if using. Bring up to a boil, then reduce to medium. Add tomato, zucchini and green beans. Simmer until veggies are tender.

Soupe au Pistou by Casa de Suna
Soupe au Pistou by Casa de Suna

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