Provençal vegetable pistou

    40 min

    Classic vegetable and pasta soup from the South of France, topped with a richly flavoured garlic and basil paste, called aïllade, and a sprinkling of Parmesan, makes a nourishing main meal. Serve with crusty bread, such as chunks of warm olive focaccia.

    1 person made this

    Serves: 4 

    • 1.2 litres vegetable stock
    • 2 small leeks, thinly sliced
    • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
    • 2 courgettes, diced
    • 400g can chopped tomatoes
    • 200g French beans, cut into short lengths
    • 400g can flageolet beans, drained and rinsed
    • 100g dried vermicelli, broken into short lengths
    • 40g Parmesan, or Italian-style hard cheese, shaved
    • 3 garlic cloves
    • 25g fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
    • 1 tomato, skinned, deseeded and chopped

    Prep:20min  ›  Cook:20min  ›  Ready in:40min 

    1. Bring the stock to the boil in a large pan and add the leeks, carrots, courgettes and canned tomatoes with their juice. Bring back to the boil, then reduce the heat slightly, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
    2. Stir in the French beans, flageolets and vermicelli, bring back to the boil, then reduce the heat slightly and simmer for 5 minutes or until all the vegetables and pasta are tender. Season to taste.
    3. Meanwhile, to make the aïllade, use a mortar and pestle to pound the garlic, basil and tomato until smooth. Season to taste. (The aïllade can be prepared ahead and can be added to the soup when ready to serve).
    4. Ladle the soup into wide bowls and add a spoonful of aïllade and some thin shavings of cheese to each serving.

    Parmesan cheese

    Parmesan cheese is not truly vegetarian, as it contains animal rennet. To make this dish 100% vegetarian, omit the cheese or find a suitable vegetarian substitute made without animal rennet. In supermarkets look for the 'parmesan style hard cheeses' which are suitable for vegetarians.


    Depending on the season, almost any fresh, diced vegetables can be added to the soup, and if supplies are short you can add a few frozen vegetables such as broad beans or sweetcorn.

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