Vegetable soup is one of those foods that I should love in theory, but it almost never seems to work out that way. I love vegetables. I love soup. Most vegetable soup misses the mark. Sometimes it lacks flavor, or the texture is bad. Sometimes it looks unappetizing or the combination of vegetables doesn’t work well together. The fact that I’ve tried countless recipes over the 11 years this blog has existed and none have made it to the pages of this site is pretty telling. Finally, though, we have a winner.

There is lots to love about this soup, and it is the crave-worthy vegetable soup I have been wanting. The combination of veggies included is perfect both as far as texture and flavor, and I love the addition of a bit of pasta and some beans to round it out. There’s no doubt that the basil pistou is the thing that takes this from good to worth repeating again and again. It adds a pop of color, a touch of richness, and a punch of flavor to bring everything together beautifully.

I feel obligated to mention that the bread I served alongside this was nearly as fabulous as the soup itself and together they were a perfect pairing. It was the quickest and simplest garlic toast I’ve ever made, and I kind of want to make it all the time now. I took slices of good sourdough bread, spread generously with softened butter, and salted it well. I popped them underneath the broiler for about 1-2 minutes per side (while watching like a hawk to ensure nice browning without actually burning). Once they were finished cooking, I rubbed both sides of the bread the cut side of a halved clove of garlic. So easy and so irresistible! It’s the perfect simple accompaniment for this lovely soup. Enjoy!

  • Prep 20 minutes
  • Cook about 25 minutes
  • Yield about 6 servings


For the pistou:

  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 oz. Parmesan cheese, grate (about ½ cup)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed

For the soup: 

  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced ½-inch thick and washed well
  • 1 rib celery, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced ¼-inch thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup orecchiette
  • 8 oz. thin green beans, trimmed and cut into ½-inch lengths
  • 1½ cups cooked white beans such as cannellini or navy beans (1 15 oz. can, drained)
  • 1 small zucchini, halved, seeded, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1 large tomato, cored, seeded, and chopped medium


  • 01

    To make the pistou, combine the basil, Parmesan, olive oil, and garlic in the small bowl of a food processor or in a tall measuring cup if using an immersion blender. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

  • 02

    To make the soup, heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add in the leek, celery, carrot, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Cook until the vegetables are softened, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the broth and water and bring the mixture to a simmer.

  • 03

    Stir in the pasta and cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the green beans until bright green but still crunchy, about 3 minutes. Add in the cannellini beans, zucchini, and tomato. Simmer until the pasta and vegetables are tender, about 3 more minutes. Season generously with salt and then pepper to taste. Serve, topping individual portions with a dollop of the pistou.