Soupe au Pistou (a Provençal classic)


Recipes abound in print and online for Soupe au Pistou, a bean and vegetable soup that is a Provençal classic. Mine is not much different from the rest, but it’s here because I love it so much. It reminds me of why I wanted to move here in the first place. When a pot of Soupe au Pistou is simmering away on our crappy hotplate (yes, it can be made on a hotplate) it makes my continuing kitchenless state somewhat tolerable. A big bowl warms me up when the temperature drops to the single digits celsius, and the chill seeps into this old stone house from all the gaping gaps in the doorways and windows and walls.

I make it around this time of year with fresh, undried beans - coco blanc and coco rouge - that we can buy at the markets here. They are so gorgeous, before and after shelling. However, it’s probably a lot easier for most people to get a hold of dry beans so the recipe calls for them. If you can get fresh beans, just use twice as much - 4 cups total - and skip the soaking and pre-cooking part.

For the first time on Just Hungry, I’ve included a Japanese version of the recipe too. This is mainly for my mom and aunt to read, but take a look if you are studying Japanese - or point your Japanese friends to it. It is not a translation of the English, but a version specifically for making this soup in Japan.

Recipe: Soupe au Pistou - Provençal bean and vegetable soup

This makes a big potful, enough for 8-10 servings at least.

  • 250g / 8 oz (about 1 heaping US cup) dry white navy or cannelloni beans
  • 250g / 8 oz (about 1 heaping US cup) cranberry or borlotti beans (You can make it with just one variety of beans instead of two if you prefer)
  • good quality olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • the white part of 2 fat leeks, finely chopped
  • 1 large or 2 medium celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, roughly chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp. dry thyme leaves or a large sprig of thyme
  • 1 400g / 15-oz can crushed tomatoes, or 2 cups of tomato sauce
  • 6 cups soup stock of your choice (use vegetable stock if you are keeping this vegan) plus additional water if needed
  • a large handful of green beans, tops and tails removed and cut into pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste

To top the soup:

Optional toppings:

  • grated Gruyere cheese or Parmesan cheese
  • Croutons made from sliced baguette

Soak the dry beans for several hours or overnight, Drain and rinse the beans. Cover them in enough water or stock so that the liquid reaches 1 inch / 2 cm above the level of the beans. Bring up to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. (You can do this part in a pressure cooker if you prefer. Just cook the beans under pressure for 5 minutes. They don’t have to become tender at this point; this is just a pre-cooking to get them on their way.)

In a very large pot, heat up about 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chopped up leek, celery and carrot, and sauté until the vegetables are limp. Add the garlic and thyme and sauté for a few more minutes. Add the bay leaf and zucchini.

Add the tomatoes and stock or water. Bring up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook for an hour or more until the beans are tender. About 30 minutes in, add the green beans. If the liquid evaporates too much, add a little water or stock.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a spoonful of pistou drizzled on top, plus the optional toppings if you like.

Note: You could use canned beans, though I don’t recommend it. If you do use them though, make the vegetable soup then add the drained canned beans around 30 minutes from the end of cooking time.

Many soupe au pistou recipes call for the addition of potatoes, but I prefer to leave them out here because they tend to melt into the soup and make it somewhat well, potato-ey. Fennel is an interesting addition.

Here’s a variation I made a few days later, using cut up winter squash or pumpkin (I used a squash called muscadet, which is similar in texture to butternut squash) instead of zucchini. I used tomato sauce made from orange-yellow Ananas tomatoes here.


スープ・オ・ピストゥー (プロバンズのバジリコ風味の豆と野菜のスープ)




  • 白インゲン豆 250g
  • 紅絞り豆 250g
  • (白インゲン豆500gだけでもOK)
  • オリーブオイル
  • ネギの白い部分2本分
  • にんにく 4かけ 
  • にんじん 中1本
  • セロリ 2本 (又は大1本)
  • ズッキーニ 中2本
  • タイム (乾燥) 小さじ2 (又はフレッシュタイムを1枝)
  • 月桂樹 1枚
  • ホールトマト缶 400g (1缶)またはトマトソース 450ml
  • 野菜コンソメスープまたは水 1.5 リットル
  • 青インゲン 300g
  • 塩、こしょう


  • 新鮮なバジリコの葉っぱ (これを作る時大抵バジリコの苗一つ分の葉っぱをいっぺんに使います)
  • オリーブオイル
  • 塩少々






Coco rouge eye candy

Here are some coco rouge on sale at my favorite market:

Cocos Rouge

And here they are shelled:

Shelled cocos rouge

Soupe au pistou made with these fresh beans is so delicious - the beans have a lovely creamy texture.

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15 comments so far...

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Re: Soupe au Pistou (a Provençal classic)

Thanks for this recipe! It's starting to get really cold here and I can't wait to make this. I might try it if I get a slow-cooker or something.

Gosh, I hope you get a kitchen soon.

MN | 30 September, 2010 - 17:58

Re: Soupe au Pistou (a Provençal classic)

I love this soup! it looks delicious. I'm going to have to try this recipe. What can I substitute for the cranberry or borlotti beans if I can't find them?

Karen C | 30 September, 2010 - 22:12

Re: Soupe au Pistou (a Provençal classic)

You can just use all white beans instead.

maki | 1 October, 2010 - 10:30

Re: Soupe au Pistou (a Provençal classic)

Pinto beans are an acceptable substitution for borlotti beans.

Dina | 2 October, 2010 - 08:13

Re: Soupe au Pistou (a Provençal classic)

Looks amazing.
If you're using fresh beans, do you have to cook them beforehand?

Yumi | 1 October, 2010 - 19:17

Re: Soupe au Pistou (a Provençal classic)

Looks delicious, and perfect timing for the north!
I've caught a cold, but this will help me recover in no time :) ありがとう、Maki!

P.S I hope you are feeling better and recovering well yourself.

Helen | 2 October, 2010 - 05:46

Re: Soupe au Pistou (a Provençal classic)

I've just tried this - I love borlotti beans - and it's delicious! I'm thinking about making more and preserve it

Silvia | 4 October, 2010 - 11:22

Re: Soupe au Pistou (a Provençal classic)

wow I love this recipe. Thanks for sharing

Style Your Food | 4 October, 2010 - 18:44

Re: Soupe au Pistou (a Provençal classic)

I happened to have a pound of borlotti/cranberry beans so I made this soup late last night I wanted to let the flavors meld. It tasted so good that I ate a bowl before bed! I used a little guanciale and maybe a 1/3 cup mild sausage formed into little meatballs. I can't wait to eat this soup tonight! Great recipe! Thank you.

Lori | 4 October, 2010 - 21:18

Re: Soupe au Pistou (a Provençal classic)

Thanks for the recipe. ITs very good.

Gina | 5 October, 2010 - 14:34

Re: Soupe au Pistou (a Provençal classic)

this recipe looks absolutely delicious! i'm definitely going to try it out. ♥

mandee | 5 October, 2010 - 20:31

Re: Soupe au Pistou (a Provençal classic)

This sounds so wonderful! My mother is going meatless for Advent, so this looks like we something we can all eat. Plus my oyaji would probably be more likely to eat it if he knows I got the recipe in Japanese! : )



Luney | 2 December, 2010 - 22:08

Re: Soupe au Pistou (a Provençal classic)

She is holding an exhibition of her work at the Town Hall Café in Lampeter.

diciem | 24 September, 2012 - 16:18

Re: Soupe au Pistou (a Provençal classic)

Super! I have now shared this with my friends. On saturday we will have very nice party. Thanx for good receipt!

Mikumi | 17 January, 2013 - 22:14

Re: Soupe au Pistou (a Provençal classic)

Super! I have now shared this with my friends. On saturday we will have very nice party. Thanx for good receipt!

anon. | 9 September, 2013 - 19:08

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