Summer Vegetable Bean Soup (Pistou)

Summer Vegetable Bean Soup (Provencal Pistou)

Summer soup loaded with fresh vegetables and beans, then topped with homemade pesto and grated cheese
Course Soups and Stews
Cuisine French
Keyword classic recipe, summer vegetable bean soup
Prep Time 13 minutes
Cook Time 38 minutes
Total Time 51 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 185 kcal
Author Adapted from Patricia Wells


  • 2 bay leaves
  • Several sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 fresh garlic cloves peeled and halved lengthwise
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1 pound fresh white and/or cranberry beans in the pod shelled OR 1/2 pound dried beans OR 1 (14-15 ounce) can beans (see note)
  • 2 medium leeks white and tender green parts only, scrubbed, quartered, and finely sliced
  • 4 medium carrots peeled and diced (see note)
  • 1 onion halved and cut into thin half-moons
  • 1/2 pound potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 5 fresh garlic cloves peeled and quartered
  • 2 medium zucchini diced (see note)
  • 1 large tomato preferably heirloom, cored, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 pound green beans trimmed and quartered
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 1/2 cup very small pasta such as orzo or ditalini (optional)
  • 5-Minute Homemade Pesto or prepared pesto
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Freshly grated Gruyère cheese


  1. Make a bouquet garni by wrapping the bay leaves and thyme with kitchen twine and tying securely.
  2. In a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot (at least 6 quarts), combine the olive oil, halved garlic, herb bundle (bouquet garni), and salt. Stir to coat. Sweat over medium-low heat until garlic softens, about 2 minutes. If using fresh or dried, soaked beans, add them now. Stir to coat and cook 1 additional minute.
  3. Add the leeks, carrots, onions, potatoes, and quartered garlic. Cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the zucchini, tomatoes, tomato paste, green beans, water, and salt to taste. (If you're using canned beans, add them now.) Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until the beans are tender. (Add more water if the soup gets too thick.)
  5. If using pasta, add it. Simmer until pasta is cooked (check package directions for time, but usually about 8 minutes).
  6. Discard bouquet garni.
  7. Serve with pesto and cheese.

Recipe Notes

If you can't find fresh beans (I couldn't), dried or canned will work. If you use dried beans, speed-soak them first. (Place in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let them sit at room temperature for at least an hour. Drain.) If you use canned beans, drain and rinse, but don't add them until you add the zucchini and tomatoes.

To dice the carrots and zucchini, first quarter them lengthwise. Then chop across the slices into small triangles.

Nutritional information does not include the pasta, pesto, or cheese sprinkled on top. If you add the pasta, total carbs will be approximately 33g per serving.

If you don't have any leeks, use 2 onions instead of 1.

Vegan? The soup itself is vegan, but the toppings are not. Use vegan pesto and vegan cheese (or skip the cheese).