Provencal RecipesSoupTaste

Elizabeth Bard’s Version of Soupe au Pistou

This soup is a Provençal classic, practically every every household will have their own variation. This is a perfect autumn recipe from Elizabeth Bard’s latest book Picnic in Provence: A memoir with Recipes. The recipe for Soupe au Pistou is published with the author’s permission.

Soupe au Pistou @ElizabethBard Recipes Provence

Soupe au Pistou

This is a great informal meal for a crowd. It’s meant to be served warm rather than hot, so there are fewer worries about timing. Start with some saucisse sèche for your guests to nibble on. Then serve the soup and pass the pistou (make sure your significant other eats some of the pungent garlic basil paste as well). Add some sourdough bread and a well-chosen cheese plate to complete your meal.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine French, Provencal
Servings 6 People


For the Soup

  • 3 quarts Water
  • 2 tsp Coarse sea salt or 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 lb (2-3 medium) Ripe tomatoes
  • lbs Unshelled fresh cranberry beans 12 ounces shelled, about 2 cups
  • lbs Unshelled fresh white beans 12 ounces shelled, about 2 cups
  • ½ lb Broad beans cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 14 oz Green Beans cut into 1-inch pieces
  • lbs (3 medium) Zucchini cut into bite-size cubes
  • ¾ lb (3 small) Potatoes cut into bite-size cubes
  • 1 cup Small elbow macaroni optional

For the pistou

  • 7 large Garlic Cloves
  • 1 cup basil leaves packed
  • ¼ tsp Coarse sea salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Grated Parmesan or Red Mimolette cheese To serve


  • In a large stockpot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil with the salt.
  • Add the whole tomatoes and blanch for 3 minutes. (This makes it easier to remove the skin.)
  • Remove the tomatoes and rinse under cold water until cool enough to handle. Peel, seed, and chop the tomatoes.
  • Add the tomatoes and other vegetables to the pot, simmer for 1 hour or a bit longer, until the beans are perfectly tender. Note: If using, add the macaroni about 20 minutes before the end.
  • While the soup is cooking, get out your food processor. Whiz together the garlic, basil leaves, and salt until finely chopped. Scrape down the sides, and then, with the motor running, slowly pour in ¼ cup olive oil and mix until well blended (it will look like store-bought pesto).
  • Ladle a good portion of vegetables and broth into each person’s bowl, then pass the pistou — I usually add a teaspoon (it’s strong) and stir it in. Pass the grated cheese and enjoy.
  • Serve with a light red wine.


This recipe can easily be doubled, and the leftovers freeze well. If I think I’m going to get two meals out of this, I don’t add the elbow macaroni the first time around, because the pasta gets a bit soggy when reheated.
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Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

With her camera and laptop close at hand, Carolyne has traded in her business suits for the world of freelance writing and blogging. Her first airplane ride at six months of age was her introduction to the exciting world of travel.

While in Provence, Carolyne can be found hiking with friends, riding the hills around the Alpilles or tackling Mont Ventoux. Her attachment to the region resonates in Perfectly Provence this digital magazine that she launched in 2014. This website is an opportunity to explore the best of the Mediterranean lifestyle (food & wine, places to stay, expat stories, books on the region, travel tips, real estate tips and more), through our contributors' articles.

Carolyne writes a food and travel blog Ginger and Nutmeg. Carolyne’s freelance articles can be found in Global Living Magazine, Avenue Magazine and City Palate (Published Travel Articles).

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