A Traditional Soupe au Pistou Recipe from Provence
Marie-Helene Beriot is the president of Remember Provence, an online store selling only genuine French creations. She also enjoys cooking traditional recipes such as soupe au pistou for her family, which she shares below.
Having grown up in Provence, Marie Helene has an innate ability to identify authentic, high-quality goods from those that might be mass-produced elsewhere. She manages everything from product selection to sales and customer relations.
Provencal Soupe au Pistou
- 1.7 lbs Red and White Beans
- 1 lb Green Beans
- 3 Courgettes (Zucchini)
- 3 Potatoes
- 2 large Tomatoes
- 7 oz Coarse Vermicelli or Macaroni Cut
- 5 oz Grated Cheese
- 1 Egg Yolk
- 3/4 cup Olive Oil
- 6 Garlic Cloves
- 1 bunch of Basil
- 7 oz Salt Pork or bacon is a good substitute.
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Make the Soup:
- Shell the beans. Cut green beans. Cut the zucchini into small sections. Wash and peel the potatoes, and cut them into small cubes.
- Put the vegetables in a medium stockpot, and add whole tomatoes with the skin. Moisten the vegetables with 3 litres (12 cups) of cold water and bring them to a boil—season with salt and pepper.
- Add the piece of salt pork and boil for 45 minutes over medium heat. Remove the tomatoes and salt pork with a slotted spoon and set aside. Stir the noodles into the soup and simmer for 15 minutes.
Prepare the Pesto:
- Put the peeled garlic cloves and basil leaves in a mortar. Using the pestle, create a basil-garlic paste.
- Remove the skin and seed the tomatoes.
- Cut the salt pork into small cubes. Mix the tomato flesh and salt pork into the basil-garlic cream. Add the egg yolk. Pour oil into the mixture gradually, stirring constantly.
- When the preparation has the consistency of thick mayonnaise, gradually add the grated cheese to the pesto, stirring continuously. Add some soup broth if necessary to add liquid.
- When the pesto is ready, take the soup off the heat and mix it in the pesto and serve.
Art de la Table
Setting the table to be attractive yet not overdone is a skill. The French call this art de la table, and it starts with quality table linens. Visiting a market in Provence is impossible without seeing sellers of tablecloths, napkins, and other items for home decor. As a warning, beware of quality and place of origin, as you may not buy made in Provence products.
Imports from India
Today’s bright Provencal prints originated from imports from East India in the 16th century. Jean-Baptiste Colbert (Minster of Finance under King Louis XIV) allowed free access into the Port of Marseille, and trade activity increased as imported goods arrived from the Indies. Among them were cotton fabrics with bright floral patterns with colourfast dyes. These so-called “Indiennes” gained immediate success with the local population. Continue reading here about the printed materials of Provence and where to buy them.