I absolutely love making this soup now that I have figured out how to make it using my food processor. It used to be quite labor-intensive to cut all the vegetables by hand. Now, I just throw them into the food processor to chop into small pieces, then toss them into my Dutch oven. So quick, so simple, and I also vastly prefer the texture of the soup prepared this way to the traditional way I was taught to make it. The vegetables don’t all come out the same perfect size, which I like, and the rice or pasta is cooked at the same time, making it possible to get my soup on the table pretty quickly.

You can, literally, put any vegetables in soupe au pistou. In spring, I add asparagus and loads of fresh peas. In summer, more ripe tomatoes. In fall, I add butternut squash. It is a substantial soup, and served with a baguette, it could easily be the meal’s main course. A green salad is a nice accompaniment. 


  • 1 medium leek

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

    WNK-French From The Market book Cover French From The Market Hillary Davis
  • 2 green bell peppers, seeded and quartered

  • 1 large carrot, cut into chunks

  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

  • 1 medium zucchini, unpeeled, cut into chunks

  • 5 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 2 ounces basmati rice, rinsed, or small pasta (such as orzo)

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves

  • 3 thyme sprigs

  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste

  • 6 cups water or chicken stock

  • 4 medium tomatoes, finely chopped, keeping seeds and juice

  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed 


  • 2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves

  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced into thirds

  • 1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese 


  • 1 cup freshly grated Emmental cheese

  • 1 small bunch fresh parsley, leaves only, minced

  • Good extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling 

TO MAKE THE SOUP: Slice off the dark green part of the leek (save for another use or compost) and use only the white and very light green parts. Trim off the root end, then halve the leek vertically. Rinse the leek under running water to wash away any sand or dirt. Cut the leek into chunks.

In a Dutch oven or soup pot over low heat, warm the oil.

Toss the leek into a food processor and pulse 6 times until it becomes small pieces, then transfer to the pot. Do the same with the bell peppers, until they are very small chunks. Pulse the carrot 7 times (it’s okay if the carrot pieces are uneven sizes), then the potatoes 7 times, and add the vegetables to the pot. Pulse the zucchini 6 times so there will be some bigger pieces and toss into the pot.

Add the green beans, rice, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, and 1 1⁄2 teaspoons sea salt. Pour in the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are cooked to your liking. Remove and discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs.

Stir in the tomatoes, with their seeds and juice, as well as the cannellini beans. Taste the soup and add more sea salt, as needed.

TO MAKE THE PISTOU: When the soup is ready, in the bowl of a food processor, combine the basil, garlic, and sea salt and process until combined. With the machine running, drizzle in the oil until the pistou becomes a spreadable paste. Transfer to a small bowl and whisk in the Parmesan.

TO SERVE AND GARNISH: Ladle the hot soup into bowls. Place a spoonful of the pistou into the center of the soup in each bowl. Sprinkle a bit of grated Emmental and minced parsley over the top and drizzle with a little oil.

Recipe excerpt from French from the Market by Hillary Davis. Photographs by Sheena Bates. Reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith Books

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