French Vegetable Soup (Soupe au Pistou)

This simple recipe for soupe au pistou, or French vegetable soup, is the perfect way to take advantage of summer’s freshest vegetables.

What makes this recipe unique is the pistou, a basil sauce similar to pesto, that’s stirred into each bowl upon serving.

An overhead photo of a grey bowl of vegetable soup with a dollop of pistou on top and a spoon. A blue napkin and herbs in the background.

Summer’s winding to a close and we’ve gotten our last delivery of garden veggies for the year. And quite a delivery it was!

The fridge is quite literally overflowing with zucchini, peppers and tomatoes, and the melons don’t even have a chance.

What to do when you have so many veggies? Well, make soup, duh.

This French vegetable soup (soupe au pistou) is exactly what you need when you have more veggies than you know what to do with.

It’s another recipe where anything goes, so use whatever you happen to have in your fridge.

What distinguishes it from just any other vegetable soup is the pistou. And so what the heck is pistou, you ask?

Well, you know pesto, right? Basically the same but without the pine nuts and quite a bit more oil.

When serving the soup, put a dollop of pistou on top and stir it through.

Suddenly your humble vegetable soup has been transformed into a fragrant bowl of goodness bursting with the flavours of summer.

A head-on shot of a bowl of vegetable soup with a spoon in it. A blue napkin, bread and herbs in the background.

To make soupe au pistou you’ll need a variety of vegetables, any type of short pasta and some beans.

Start building the flavours by sautéing the onion, carrot and celery in olive oil. Then add the garlic. Add the liquids and bring to a simmer.

When adding the remaining veggies you can be a bit careful about the cooking time of each one. First add those that need more time to cook, like the green beans.

Since I don’t like mushy, overcooked zucchini, I added it at the end.

If you are using different vegetables than those called for in the recipe, keep in mind how long you want each to cook and stagger when you add them to the pot.

You’ll also notice that I call for adding the beans without draining and rinsing them. Adding the aquafaba to soups is a trick I use often, like in this vegan Hungarian goulash to help thicken the broth and add a silky mouthfeel.

An overhead shot of soupe au pistou with the basil sauce stirred in. A hand is holding the spoon. A blue napkin and herbs in the background.

While the soup cooks you can make a simple pistou sauce by blitzing together basil, garlic and olive oil.

A lot of modern recipes for pistou call for cheese, which when I make vegan pesto I substitute for white miso paste. You could also use nutritional yeast.

When you’re soup is ready, serve it up in bowls with the pistou on the side for everyone to dollop in their bowls as they like.

Give it a gentle stir to mix it in and enjoy your French vegetable soup with some crusty bread!

French Vegetable Soup (Soupe au Pistou)

French Vegetable Soup (Soupe au Pistou)

Yield: Serves 6
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

This summery soup is perfect for using up all the odds and ends in your crisper or your end-of-summer garden!


For the soup

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 cups high-quality vegetable stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 3/4 cup short pasta (I used a small variety of macaroni)
  • 225 grams (8 oz) green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 jar (425 grams / 15 ounces) white beans or kidney beans, undrained and unrinsed to add body to the soup
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the pistou

  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon white miso paste (optional)


  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the leek, carrots, celery and a pinch of salt and allow to cook slowly until soft, about 10 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds more.
  2. Pour in the vegetable stock and water and bring to a simmer. Add in the green beans and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  3. Finally, add in the pasta, white beans, tomatoes and zucchini and simmer until the pasta is cooked and the vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. While the soup is cooking, prepare the pistou by blitzing all the ingredients in a food processor.
  5. Serve the pistou alongside the soup and allow each person to put a dollop of it on top of their bowls.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 323Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gSodium: 595mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 10gSugar: 5gProtein: 13g

Nutrition information is provided as a curtesy and isn't always accurate.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    September 21, 2020 at 6:44 am

    The classic “Pistou” does not need Parmesan or a substitute. It is only oil, garlic and basil.

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