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Soupe au Pistou

4 Servings

1¼ hours 30 minutes active

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Provençale soupe au pistou is a humble and hearty vegetable, bean and pasta soup. Pistou is a coarse puree of basil, garlic, cheese and olive oil similar to Italian pesto. It's used as a finishing touch to infuse the soup with heady herbal notes and bold garlickiness. Pinto beans might seem an odd choice for a Mediterranean dish, but we liked how they retained their shape and cooked up with a firm yet creamy texture. Dried beans are far superior to canned here, but they do require soaking, so plan accordingly. Before adding the pasta to the soup, we toast it in extra-virgin olive oil to bring out a wheaty, nutty flavor in the pasta.




Don't forget to soak the beans for at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours. Salting the soaking water ensures that the beans cook up tender, as the salt softens the tough skins. It also seasons the beans so that they're full-flavored throughout.

1¼ hours

30 minutes active


  • 8

    ounces (1¼ cups) dried pinto beans

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper


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Michael M.
June 7, 2022
Great soup - will make again
This is a really good stew - flavorful and satisfying, will definitely make again. The only issue I have is the amount of salt in the recipe. It calls for 4 tsps of salt to be added to the beans. I was hesitant adding so much salt, so carefully measured. Even then, it was too much I would recommend only using 2 to start and then see if more needed. Normally, the recipes are well tested. It seems like this one got past the editors.
Robin L.
December 11, 2023
Delicious soup!
Instead of pistou I just used pesto. I also added Swiss chard. Great soup. Can handle many different veggies.
Judith Y.
March 19, 2024
So garlicky!
I wanted to love this soup. Based on previous reviews, I reduced the amount of salt, but the garlic is completely overwhelming - and I LOVE garlic! I followed the recipe pretty exactly (other than reducing the salt). Any ideas for how to cut the garlic after the fact? I have a lot left over but I don't know if we'll be able to tolerate it as is!
Susan B.

The garlic instructions are a bit unclear. Instructions do not call for removing the "paper" from the garlic head, so I had assumed it would be discarded. Now I see I will have to fish out the peel from the soup. Are the 5 cloves in addition to the head? The written instructions don't call for 5 additional cloves.

Janelle C.

Hi Susan,

You always want to remove the paper from the garlic head. The 5 cloves are in addition to the head. You add all the garlic in at once as stated in the second step of the recipe.

The Milk Street Team

Janine W.

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Janine W.

Made this last night! Very delicious. Will definitely be making this again :)

David M.

Hi there. Love pistou and this process. But....4 teaspoons of salt in step 5? I thought I read wrong but decided, let me try it. Definitely put the salty taste beyond what worked for us. Next time I’ll put 2 and season to taste at the end. Otherwise, great recipe. Thanks for working out the science!

Rochelle D.

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Dennis R.

Made last night. Excellent! Wife is gluten-free, so instead of adding the toasted pasta to the soup, I transferred a few ladles of broth into the pan with the pasta and cooked it separately at the end. Other minor change is that I did not squeeze the garlic cloves directly into the soup, but onto a plate and then transferred the gooey cloves into the soup. Glad I did it that way bc quite a bit of garlic paper got mixed in and had to be removed. Next time we will make cheese toasts to serve alongside and complete the meal.