This provencal vegetable soup, called “soupe au pistou” in French, is a well-known speciality of Provence. It contains a variety of vegetables, and most importantly comes with pistou, which is the French version of pesto. Pistou is a basil-garlic paste, which differs from pesto in that it does not contain any nuts. The basil paste is traditionally added to the soup just before serving, sometimes immediately mixed with the rest of the soup, or other times, placed in the middle of the soup so everyone can choose as little or as much as they wish. I like it best when the pistou is mixed with the soup at least 15 minutes before serving, so as to allow time for the flavors to mingle. I find it even better on the second day, when the vegetables and pistou have mingled overnight. Pistou is really the highlight of this soup and what makes it so delicious!
For the soup, you will need a big pot with a lid.
The traditional version of this provencal soup adds bacon to the vegetables, but I make mine with vegetables only, as I like it as light and healthy as possible. The soup usually tastes best on the second day, so it is a good idea to make more than you actually need right away.