Vegetable Soup with Pistou

March 21, 2012

This chunky vegetable soup with pistou is a staple in our house. The pistou is made with sun-dried tomatoes, and adds an incredible flavor to the base soup.

My father and I have had a 30-year debate about the virtues of chunky soups versus blended soups. We have agreed to disagree and acknowledge that there is room for both.

Scott prefers chunky soups over blended soups, and this vegetable soup with sun-dried tomato pistou is his favorite. We switch up the pistou and the vegetables every week, but this is the soup we like the best. Scott is so obsessed with semi-dried tomatoes that mum and dad bubble-wrap jars and pack them in their suitcase when they come to stay. It’s really difficult to find them in America.

This soup is like my little white t-shirt that I use all the time is never the star attraction. I decided it was time this soup had it’s moment in the spotlight!

This pistou soup is simple, super healthy, and bursting with flavor. Those of you who are wondering, “what is pistou?” you are not alone. Pesto or pistou is basically the same thing.

Pistou is a cold sauce made out of crushing basil, garlic and olive oil in a mortar and pestle. This simple rustic sauce originated in Italy and parts of France, and later versions included cheeses like parmesan which was very similar to what we think of as pesto today. I’ve taken this general idea and made a vegan pesto out of sun-dried tomatoes and macadamias. It might not be very traditional, but it tastes downright fabulous!

A dollop of pistou or pesto is one of the quickest ways to inject a huge burst of flavor to an otherwise bland bowl of vegetable soup. Just throw together any leftover veggies you have crying out in the fridge and simmer them in some broth with some herbs. Stirring in some pistou transforms the simple into something sublime.

For presentation purposes it’s best to serve this soup by placing a dollop of pistou in the bottom of the bowl, and ladle the soup over the top. Allow your guests to mix it in themselves lest you appear to be serving up bowl of vomit. Gross, but, you’ll see what I mean when you mix it together!

This may not be the prettiest soup I’ve shared, but this vegetable soup with pistou sure is tasty.


Vegetable Soup with Pistou

This chunky vegetable soup with pistou is full of flavor and really easy!

Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 8
Author Tess Masters



  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or extra-virgin olive oil)
  • 2 cups (300g) diced yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh garlic (3 cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 cups peeled and diced red-skinned potato
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup green beans trimmed, halved
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 1 cup cooked cannellini beans
  • 1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
  • 1 cup cooked kidney beans



  1. To make the soup, warm the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, and saute the oil, onions, and garlic with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt for about 5 minutes until just soft and translucent. Add in the potatoes, tomato, basil, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the vegetable broth, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-high, and simmer, uncovered, for about 5 minutes, until the potatoes are just getting tender.
  2. Add the green beans, zucchini, and legumes, and simmer for a further 5 minutes until the green beans and zucchini are just cooked. Remove the soup from the heat, and allow to cool slightly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. To make the pistou, throw the pistou ingredients into your food processor and pulse until well combined but still rustic. Add salt to taste.
  4. To serve, place a generous dollop of pistou in the bottom of each bowl, and ladle the soup over the pistou. Pass extra pistou at the table. 

Recipe Notes

Photo by Trent Lanz; styling by Alicia Buszczak


Comments 10

  1. This is really delicious. It’s hard to come up with new ways to make a hearty, vegetable soup interesting! I made a pot this morning and it was almost gone by dinner time. It was definitely a hit, thank you very much.

  2. Oh gee, this soup is super great and a wonderful way to stay warm on a day like today (It’s very cold in Los Angeles right now) You’ve added so many wonderful flavors, I love the combination of different beans, just super. I am new to the vegan world and just made this for my kids and husband, we will definitely be back for more.

  3. I literally just blended up the pistou.

    It. Is. Amazing.

    Now I’m gonna serve myself a bowl of the pistou + soup. 🙂

    I want to make every kind of pistou in the world now!

    Thanks so much for this recipe, Tess!!!! <3

    1. P.S. Oh! And I didn’t have any macadamias on hand so I used cashews instead – thought they would closely mimic the creaminess of the macadamia as well as cashews can!

      So, anyone examining this recipe should note that cashews work just fine 🙂

  4. Thanks so much for this- I used to make a vegetarian version of piston with cheese which was gorgeous but not vegan! Never even thought of using nuts. D’oh!

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