Julia Child’s Soupe au Pistou (Pesto Soup)

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January 28, 2020

Below is a recipe of Julia Child’s Soupe au Pistou, or Pesto Soup. It’s a simple vegetarian soup with the divine taste because of the “Pistou,” not exactly like the Italian “Pesto,” because of parmesan cheese as an ingredient. I used Thai Basil instead of Italian basil, as the mild bitterness of Thai basil gave it a stronger taste. I also added more salt, knowing Julia Child’s recipe was more healthy with less salt, and once substituted beef broth for water. You can vary the taste of this soup depending on which vegetables you like, but try this original recipe first to compare. 

I quadrupled the amount of pesto the recipe asked for, so I could store it in the freezer in four freezer zip lock bags. Whenever you are ready to make a pot of soup, you know the pesto is already prepared. It takes more time to prepare the pesto than the soup itself! You can use a food processor to make the pesto rather than the traditional mortar and pestle method. I also put the entire contents of pesto into my pot of soup before serving, not slowly adding the hot soup into a tureen containing pesto. You will see how you can facilitate the multiple steps asked for in this recipe, to save time. Julia Child was a meticulous, famous chef of the chefs, not like most of us who are chefs for our families!

Soup Ingredients:

3 quarts water
2 cups diced waxy potatoes
2 cups diced carrots
2 cups diced onion or white of leek
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups canned white navy or kidney beans, drained
1/3 cup broken spaghetti
1 slice stale white bread, crumbled
2 cups fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Optional : pinch of saffron

4 cloves crushed garlic
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 to 1/2 cup fruity olive oil


  1. To make soup: Bring water, potatoes, carrots and onions or leeks, and salt to a boil in a 6-quart soup pot. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. About 20 minutes before serving add white beans, broken spaghetti, bread, pepper and saffron to the soup and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the green beans and simmer 5 to 10 minutes more, until they are cooked through but still crunchy. Again adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  2. To make pistou: While the soup is simmering, place the garlic, tomato puree or paste, basil and cheese in a soup tureen or another pot. Pound to a paste with a wooden spoon, then beat in olive oil, drop by drop.
  3. To finish and serve: Whisk a cup of hot soup into tureen containing pistou. When smooth add rest of soup and stir well to combine. Serve hot with French bread or croutons. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

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1 Comment

  1. Sally Haberer on November 8, 2021 at 4:04 pm

    Sounds delicious. My daughter recommended it.