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Soupe au Pistou

May 29, 2020 | Updated March 31, 2022 | Laura

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Julia Child's Soupe au Pistou

✽ Recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. I | Julia Child ✽

Julia Child Recipe 114 | 414 recipes to go!

✽ Soupe au Pistou [Provençal Vegetable Soup with Garlic, Basil, and Herbs], p. 45


✽ Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. I was written by Julia Child who co-authored with Simone Beck & Louisette Bertholle and was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1961.

✽ You can buy Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I which contains these recipes here. (affiliate link)

The purpose of this Julia Child section of my blog is to document my journey of learning how to cook. To show my successes, my failures, and what I learned along the way.

Since I didn't create these recipes (if only!), I do not post exact amounts of ingredients or word-for-word instructions. If any of these recipes spark your interest, I highly recommend you buy Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking (affiliate link). It's a great investment and learning tool and contains hundreds of classic recipes.

I hope that you enjoy reading my thoughts, learn something new, and leave inspired to try a new recipe. Bon appétit!


Butter Count & Cost- Soupe au Pistou

✽ Butter Count: +0 TB

✽ Cost: $9.27 [~$1.32 per serving]

Check out the total Julia Child butter count & cost here!

→ Looking for a different Julia Child recipe? Here's a list of all of the completed and pending Mastering the Art of French Cooking recipes!

If basil is on the ingrdient list, I'm in.

This soup surprised me in a good way. I was expecting just your average everyday stew-like soup, but boy was I wrong.

Pistou is like pesto and adds a huge punch of flavor. Though Julia says this is a summer soup since that's when the ingredients are fresh, I definitely can see myself eating this wrapped up in blankets watching the snow fall.

She also suggests that you can add the pistou on top of spaghetti- yum!

Provençal Vegetable Soup with Garlic, Basil, and Herbs: Questions

✽ What is pistou?

Pistou is a condiment from the Provence region in the south of France that, as I mentioned, is very similar to pesto. The main difference between pesto and pistou is that pistou does not contain pine nuts.

Julia's version of pistou is made with garlic, tomato purée or paste, basil, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Traditionally, pistou only contains garlic, basil, and olive oil.

Pistou comes from the Provençal word, pista, which means 'to crush' as the ingredients are usually crushed in a mortar and pestle.

✽ Why is a piece of stale white bread stirred into soupe au pistou?

I thought this was strange as I had never added bread to soup before, and, honestly, it kind of grossed me out. The thought of soggy bread boiling in my soup- bleh.

It turns out that Italians frequently stir stale bread into their soups in order to thicken it up. The bread soaks up the liquid, breaks down, and, voilà- thick soup!

It also turns a soup into something more substantial and a great way to use up that bread that has turned stale in your pantry.

✽ What kind of fruity olive oil should I use for soupe au pistou?

I've only tried one kind of fruity olive oil for this recipe because it's the best. I got a little bottle of lemon olive oil in my stocking at Christmas, and it adds the best flavoring for this soup.

While I haven't tried other flavors of oil in this soup, I highly recommend lemon. It just works so well!

✽ What should you serve with Soupe au Pistou?

Since this soup is so hearty, it's filling enough to be a meal on its own. Julia (and I) recommend simply serving with warm crusty bread. The bread is very useful to scoop all that goodness left in the bowl.

Looking for more Julia Child soup recipes?

→ Check out all of the soup recipes that I've completed so far!

Soupe au Pistou Recipe: Fun Facts

✽ Why is the soup made with water instead of stock?

It is said that the soup is made with water rather than stock so that the flavors of the fresh vegetables shine through.

✽ Which vegetables are added in soupe au pistou?

Soupe au pistou can be many different combinations of vegetables and ingredients.

Common ingredients include navy beans, kidney beans, string beans, peas, zucchini, bell pepper, potatoes, carrots, leeks, and onions. Whatever vegetable in season during the summer will work.

In fact, Julia says that it's perfectly acceptable to use canned or frozen vegetables during the winter as well.

✽ Why is soupe au pistou a summer soup?

The reason why soupe au pistou is usually served during the summer is because that's when an abundance of vegetables are available.

How to Make Soupe au Pistou

✽ Step 1: Boil Vegetables

Julia Child Soup

This soup recipe starts off by boiling water, aromatic vegetables, and salt.

✽ Step 2: Add Beans, Spaghetti, & Bread

Julia Child Soup

A few minutes before serving the soup, green beans, kidney beans (or navy beans), broken spaghetti, a slice of crumbled stale white bread, pepper, and saffron is added to the pot.

Let me stop right here and say I HATE soggy bread. I can get past a piece of hard-toasted bread in my French onion soup because the bread still holds its form. Also, it just tastes so good. But putting stale white bread crumbs in a pot of liquid? Ehhh.

The purpose of adding bread is to make the soup thicker. Initially, I was a little queasy about it, but eventually the bread almost completely disappeared and the soup indeed did get quite a bit thicker. If anybody has a soggy bread problem like me- have no fear. This one will be okay!

✽ Step 3: Make Pistou


Julia Child Pistou

While the soup is cooking, the pistou is made. It consists of garlic, tomato paste, basil, and Parmesan cheese and is blended together until well combined. Olive oil is beaten in drop-by-drop.

I used lemon-infused olive oil, and I thought it added such a nice hint of citrus to this soup.

Once the soup is ready, it is beaten into the pistou. We ate our soup with a nice piece of warm crusty bread which was perfect to wipe up all the deliciousness in the bowl!

Provencal Vegetable Soup with Garlic, Basil, and Herbs Julia Child

*This blog, Laura The Gastronaut, and this post were/are not endorsed or supported by Julia Child or The Julia Child Foundation.

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Category: Julia Child, Soup Cuisine: French
Keywords: soupe au pistou, Julia Child soup recipe, provencal vegetable soup, soupe au pistou recipe

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More Julia Child Soup Recipes:

Aïgo Bouïdo (delicious and simple garlic soup)
Onion Soup (you can't go wrong with this classic)
Cream of Mushroom Soup (a must-try for all mushroom lovers)
→ Check out all of the completed Julia Child soup recipes!

✽ You can find this recipe and all the other Julia Child recipes I make in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I (affiliate link).
→ Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. I was written by Julia Child who co-authored with Simone Beck & Louisette Bertholle and was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1961.

✽ Check out my Julia Child Recipe Checklist to see a list of all my completed and pending recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking!

Bon appétit!

May 29, 2020 by Laura Ehlers

*This Soupe au Pistou blog post may contain some Amazon affiliate links. These link to products that I personally use and recommend. If you purchase anything using my links, it will not cost you anything. It will though give some financial support which helps me keep this blog running. Thank you for reading my blogs and your continued support.