soupe au pistou

soupe au pistou

Soupe au pistou is a south of France kind of minestrone, and borrows a pesto-type sauce from round the coast in Liguria. This is a vegan and viveka’d version that draws on the strenghts of the kitchen garden at this time of year (this is a June-time version). You can vary the veg to what’s in season, going into squash and tomatoes and dried beans in the autumn. Just try to cut them to a size that means they will cook evenly given their density. Traditionally it’s without pasta (unlike Italian minestrone) but new potatoes are plentiful and gorgeous, and hold their shape well in the soup. The basil was when pinching out the tops of the plants so they get bushier. If you find it difficult to germinate and grow on basil (it is fussy) get a supermarket pot, take the leaves leaving a couple on each stem, then tease them out and plant into a pot or bed 10cm apart. They will grow on nicely.

Ingredients serves 6

  • 15 pods broad beans
  • 500g new potatoes cut into pieces about 2cm cubed (these ones are Red Duke of York)
  • carrots sliced in diagonal rounds
  • good handful of fresh thyme, leaves removed from stalks
  • a good handful of parsley, stems finely chopped, leaves less so
  • a good handful of kale, chard or spinach, whatever you have, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • good pinch seasalt
  • a good few grinds of black pepper

for the pistou

  • a good double handful of basil leaves
  • 100g tofu
  • 60g almonds, soaked in water that was boiling for a minimum of 30 minutes (overnight is good) then peeled
  • 2 heaped tablespoons dried yeast flakes (eg Engevita)


  1. place soup ingredients in a big pan and stir, bringing softness to the veg pieces and releasing the aromas of the herbs and pepper. About 5 minutes – don’t let it catch
  2. Add boiling water to cover – enough to get a nice broth and cook on for 25 minutes or so on a low heat til veg are tender


  1. blend the ingredients together and scoop into a serving bowl

You might want to serve this with crusty bread, or leave it out as you already have nice carbs in the potatoes (or pasta)

See bean pate for how to cook dried beans, and soda bread for an easy, crusty accompaniment