Vegetable Soup with Sweet Basil

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Soup au Pistou— a wonderful vegetable soup recipe with fresh tomatoes, leeks, potato, onion, celery, zucchini, green beans, carrots, and basil.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

This is a lovely summer vegetable soup that my father discovered years ago from Wolfgang Puck (who was recounting a favorite recipe from his mother).

It’s a French classic “Soup au Pistou” for which you gently cook very fresh summer vegetables in either water or stock, and stir in a paste (“pistou”) of basil, garlic, and tomatoes.

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This soup is similar to a light Italian minestrone, but without the white beans, and with a pistou “pesto” for flavor.

It’s simple, light, healthy, and delicious. Clean eats that taste amazing!

Dad makes the soup several times each summer, especially when the garden is producing a lot of summer squash and tomatoes. It’s a great way to use up garden produce.

Vegetable Soup with Sweet Basil Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6

Note from Wolfgang Puck: His mother only uses water, because her vegetables are peak-of-the-season, just-picked, and therefore full of flavor, but you can use stock if you like. Pistou, the puree of tomatoes, basil, garlic, and olive oil in this recipe, is a traditional French condiment that adds a burst of flavor just before serving.


  • 2 small leeks, white part only
  • 1 large potato, peeled
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 12 green beans
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 quarts chicken stock (or 2 qts water, 4 bouillion cubes, a pinch of thyme, and 1/2 bay leaf OR you can use vegetable broth for a vegetarian option)*
  • 4 to 6 ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded
  • 4 medium garlic cloves
  • 30 fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
  • Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • A few drops of Tabasco sauce

*Use gluten-free stock or bouillon for gluten-free version.


1 Prep vegetables: Cut the leeks, potato, onion, celery, zucchini, green beans, and carrots into 1/4 inch diced cubes.

2 Cook the vegetables: In a 6-quart stockpot, combine 3 tablespoons of the olive oil with the 3 tablespoons of water. Add the vegetables and cook over medium-low heat until all the water evaporates. Do not brown the vegetables.

3 Add stock and simmer: Add the stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.

4 Make the basil pistou: Put the tomatoes, basil, garlic, and remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a food processor. Pulse until puréed.

5 Stir the purée into the cooked soup. Do not let the soup return to a boil. Season, to taste, with salt, pepper, and a few dashes of Tabasco. Serve the soup hot or cold.

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Soupe au Pistou from David Lebovitz

Summer Minestrone here on Simply Recipes

Vegetable Soup with Basil

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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8 Comments / Reviews

No ImageVegetable Soup with Sweet Basil

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Janice

    Oh my goodness, I just made a pot of this and it is delicious! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Michelle

    This vegetable soup is exactly the thing for satisfying a vegetable craving (you know the kind you get from eating too many rich foods like shrimp curry, kabobs, ribs, tamales, omelets). I actually really liked the soup before I put in the pistou. I had very small tomatoes, so I put in 9 instead of 4-6. I thought the pistou was a great idea (who doesn’t love fresh basil and tomatoes, olive oil and garlic!), but after adding it, it overpowered the delicate taste of the other vegetables, which I was craving.

    This is quite a quick recipe for a soup and the chopping is not too bad. I would make this in the future and add the pistou depending on how I’m feeling. Certainly the pistou gave it a summery flair (and sets it apart from normal vegetable soups), but I was in the mood for autumn when I made it, so it wasn’t what I wanted.

    I really enjoyed all the vegetables- the leeks especially. I didn’t add any Tabasco, but I added a generous bit of sea salt, since my stock was reduced sodium (and I usually don’t like adding any salt). I forgot the thyme and bay leaf. Perhaps next time I’ll try to remember. This recipe is worth making again!

  3. Felicia

    We loved this soup! It was delicious, fulfilling, and used up all that basil I have growing. I needed another wonderful vegetable soup and this is definitely it!

  4. Joan K.

    Frankly, I picked this recipe because I had a lot of tomatoes from our little garden and also some basil from my girlfriend’s garden. This recipe called for up to six tomatoes and thirty basil leaves. So I decided to cook this soup. It was delicious. I was afraid of all the basil; I had never eaten fresh basil before, but everything was perfectly balanced. Great soup.


  5. Daphne

    I have made this recipe two or three times this summer and am making it again tonight with the last of the summer basil… it is so good and fresh. I find it needs a little extra salt and/or tomato paste if your tomatoes are less than stellar, but other than that, it’s excellent. I also add in a cup or so of fresh white corn.

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Vegetable Soup with Sweet BasilVegetable Soup with Sweet Basil