Vegetable Soup with Basil Pistou

We’re in this wonderful time of year where the temperatures are finally starting to drop a bit, which immediately has many of us looking for recipes that feel more like the fall comforts we’ve longed for all summer.  Still, especially for those of us in the southern part of the country, late summer produce is still plentiful.  This vegetable soup with basil pistou combines the best of both of those worlds.

My friend Annie is always on point with her recipes, so when she called this vegetable soup “craveworthy,” I knew I had to give it a spin.  As usual, she was right.

I did make the tiniest of adaptations–increasing the red pepper flakes for just a bit more heat and using tortellini and cherry tomatoes because I had some on hand that needed to be used up.  The first time I made this, I used the entire four cup carton of vegetable broth and decreased the water to two cups.  After I did that, I realized I should’ve stuck with Annie’s ratio so I’d have a cup of broth left for reheats.  Her ratio of equal parts broth and water is in the ingredient list below; choose according to if you’ll be serving all the soup in one meal or divvying some out for lunchtime leftovers.

The basil pistou is what takes this to star level.  It’s basically pesto’s French cousin, made without pine nuts, and it’s a perfect way to use up some of the basil that’s still going strong in your summer garden.  You know what, though?  One of the times I made this I used the last bit of store bought pesto (cue Ina Garten–“store bought is fine”) and the soup was still completely, as Annie said, craveworthy.

I can’t get enough soup this time of here.  Here are some of my favorites.

vegetable soup with basil

This vegetable soup with basil pistou hits the sweet spot of fall comfort and late summer produce with the perfect blend of flavors and textures you and your family won’t be able to resist.


Vegetable Soup with Basil Pistou
very slightly adapted from Everyday Annie


For the pistou:
1/2 c. fresh basil leaves
1 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (approx. 1/2 c.)
1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed

For the soup:
1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
1 leek, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced 1/2-in. thick, and washed well
1 rib celery, cut into 1/2-in. pieces
1 carrot, peeled and sliced 1/4-in. thick
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (plus more to taste)
4 c. vegetable broth
2 c. water
1 c. cheese tortellini, orecchiette, or other small pasta
8 oz. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2-in pieces
1 (15-oz.) can white beans, drained
1 small zucchini, halved, seeded, and cut into 1/4-in. pieces
1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved

1.  Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the leek, celery, carrot, and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Cook until the vegetables are softened, 8-10 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes.  Cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add in broth and water and bring to a simmer.

2.  Meanwhile, make the pistou by combining all ingredients in the small bowl of a food processor.  Process until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl, as needed.

3.  Stir in the pasta and cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.  Add in green beans and simmer until bright green and still crunchy, about 3 minutes.  Stir in beans, zucchini, and tomato and simmer 3 minutes more.  Season generously with salt and pepper to taste.

4.  To serve, ladle into individual bowls and top with a generous dollop of the basil pistou.


yield: 6 servings

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