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This is a classic dish from the south of France. Technically, it is a soup but it is so full of vegetables and goodness that it is often served as a stew and a meal in itself with some crusty bread. Traditionally it includes white (butter) or kidney beans, potatoes, carrots, leeks, onions, garlic, tomatoes, green beans, courgettes, small pasta and basil of course but as with most classic recipes, housewives tended to use a mixture of left over veggies and there are many versions out there. I decided to use chickpeas and corn instead of the white or kidney beans and I substituted orzo for the small macaroni. I also added some chorizo to the mix and this really gave the soup a delicious flavour and aroma. A complete meal – great for summer or winter.

Serves 6


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
6 cups / 1 1/2 litres chicken stock or bouillon
2 fresh parsley sprigs
2 fresh thyme sprigs
4 small carrots, cut into small cubes
1 medium potato, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup orzo
250 g / 1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 3 pieces
1 cup canned chickpeas
1/2 can of diced tomatoes or 2 medium, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes
1/2 cup corn
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pistou – see below
Fresh basil leaves
Fresh parmesan, grated or shaved



Pour the olive oil into a large dutch oven or pot and heat on medium
Add the onion, garlic and leeks and sauté until the onion is soft
Add the parsley, thyme, carrots and potato and cook for a minute or two
Pour in the broth and cook for 15 minutes
Add the green beans and chickpeas and cook for 5 minutes
Add the orzo and cook for 10 minutes
Add the tomatoes and corn kernels and cook another 3 to 5 minutes
Season to taste
Ladle the soup into flat soup plates and add some pistou
Scatter some fresh basil leaves
Top with parmesan




Pistou is basically the french word for pesto, although classic pistou does not contain any nuts. It finds its way into countless pastas, soups and even as a topping for toasted pain de campagne or country bread. When basil is abundant, in summer, I prepare the recipe without the pine nuts and parmesan and freeze it to use in the winter. Then when I want to use it, I simply defrost it and place it in the food processor with pine nuts, process till smooth, add the parmesan and voilà, pistou!

makes about 1 cup


2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
125 ml / 1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh pine nuts
3 large garlic cloves
Pinch of salt
50 g / 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan


Place the basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic and salt in the food processor
Process until smooth
Place mixture in a bowl
Add the parmesan