Soup au Pistou

soup au pistou /

This is what you make when you have a bounty of spring vegetables. Or rather… when you had a bounty of spring vegetables and now all you have left is a random assortment.

This particular day I had a half bulb of fennel, half an onion (why do I always have a half of an onion?)… some parsnips, a couple of carrots and a few chard leaves that were on the wilty side. I cooked these things down into a pretty humble soup, but sometimes a humble soup is just what you need.

soup au pistou /

To kick it up a notch, make a pistou (a french version of pesto – stronger and without nuts). It’s traditionally made with basil but I took some liberties and mixed in a few tarragon leaves that I happened to have.

Pretend you are eating this peasant meal somewhere in Provence and pour yourself a nice glass of rose. (I realize rose isn’t in my photo above, but ideally it would have been).

soup au pistou /

I realize this ingredient list may look a bit long, but feel free to adapt this and use up whatever veggies you might have on hand.

soup au pistou

Serves: serves 4
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ onion
  • ½ fennel bulb
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • ½ cup chopped parsnips
  • ½ cup chopped carrots
  • 4 teaspoons dried herbs de provence*
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, liquid drained
  • 4 cups veggie broth
  • 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • a few tablespoons torn fennel fronds
  • 4 or so large chard leaves, chopped, stems included
  • ½ cup dried quinoa macaroni noodles (optional)
  • salt, pepper
  • generous squeezes of lemon
  • generous grating of parmesan (a few spoonfuls of nutritional yeast, if vegan)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • about 2 cups fresh herbs (I used basil and tarragon)
  • ½ clove of garlic
  • a few pinches coarse salt
  • lemon zest from ½ a lemon
  • parmesan cheese, if you wish
  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, salt and pepper. Sweat the onion until translucent. Add the fennel and garlic, a pinch more salt, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for another few minutes.
  2. Add the parsnips, carrots and herbs de provence and another pinch of salt. Continue cooking for 8 or so more minutes. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, stirring to get any bits off the bottom of the pan. Let the wine reduce for another few minutes.
  3. Stir in tomatoes, broth and beans. Reduce heat and let it simmer until the root vegetables are tender. 20-30 or so minutes.
  4. While you wait, make the pistou. Coarsely chop the herbs, then grind all ingredients in a mortar and pestle. (or pulse everything in a food processor). Taste and adjust. (hint - wait and taste it with a spoonful of the soup before adjusting).
  5. Add the chopped chard leaves, macaroni noodles and fennel fronds, and continue to simmer until the noodles are cooked. About 10 more minutes.
  6. Taste and adjust seasonings. Finish with generous squeezes of lemon, grated parmesan cheese, and a spoonful of pistou, per bowl. Serve with crusty bread.
*or combo of dried thyme & oregano leaves, or sub fresh thyme leaves (to taste)


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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Marley Smith

    it very elegant

  2. Greg

    Oh. My. God. My friend and I just made this. It was hands-down one of the best things I’ve ever tasted, and I’ve tried a lot of different kinds of food in my day. We’ll done.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Greg – I’m so glad you enjoyed it!!

      • Marley Smith

        It is more important then the lemon zest.

  3. Jeff

    I double the recipe while using the same one can of beans and pasta. I also add Chervil to the Basil and Tarragon. Always us a small amount of Parm in the Pistou, it takes a very small amount for it to bring out the flavors of the herbs. It is more important then the lemon zest. I use “rainbow” chard for more color.

  4. Michele

    The soup looks delicious, but that bread certainly can’t be gluten free! If it is, I want that recipe 🙂

    • jeanine

      the soup recipe is gluten free (bread optional, sorry :)).

  5. Rita

    This was amazing!!! My husband loved every spoonful as did I.

    • jeanine

      thanks for sharing, I’m so glad you both loved it!

  6. This is my kind of soup. Not only does it look very appetizing, it contains all of my favorite ingredients. Can’t wait to make it

  7. sarah from

    what a beautiful and rustic dish! my kind of cooking 🙂 i’ll give this one a try.

  8. Ginny from

    Made this for dinner tonight and it was great! Such a light, lovely dish.

  9. Wow…this looks so delicious! I love a hearty soup and this one certainly fits the bill. I also love chard, fennel and parsnips. This looks like a winner! I will have to give it a try. I’ve posted it onto our Soups Pinterest board to share with others (and to keep until I make it): I’ve posted some of your other amazing soups there as well!

  10. Eileen from

    I love soupe au pistou! So glad it’s getting close to fresh basil season. 🙂

  11. Ashley from

    Totally need to try making that pistou. Well, and this whole meal. Love!

  12. linda8471


  13. Bonnie from

    YUM. This looks right up my street. Going to make it this weekend, for sure! I just love the way your blog is laid out, so clean and organised. Love checking out what’s new in your kitchen.

  14. Lauren from

    Hey! I have a random assortment of veggies. This soup is happening.

  15. Tieghan from

    This is my kind of soup! Loaded with veggies! YUM!

  16. Your soup is so pretty and delicious looking, not the slightest bit humble to me! Pistou makes it very elegant!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.