The Provence region in southern France is known for its Mediterranean climate, with plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures. Groves of olive trees and fields of lavender fill the area’s hills with rich colors and aromas like nowhere else. As in much of France, the food here is a celebration. Simple flavors, lovingly prepared and carefully combined, result in dishes that highlight the sumptuousness of fresh foods.
That’s the inspiration for this Provençal Vegetable Soup. It’s delicious anytime, but the spirit of the soup truly shines when you can use fresh ingredients, maybe even from your garden!
Make it vegan: This version of the recipe calls for chicken, but it’s easy to turn this into a delightful vegan soup, too. I just omit the chicken and use vegetable broth rather than the chicken broth.
You’ll need to do a little bit of chopping and dicing for this recipe, but I promise the results are well worth the effort. The key is to cook the vegetables before adding the broth, so they have a chance to soften and brown – Nevermind that it smells so, so good while it sautés!
Don’t forget about the fresh pesto, either. There’s a simple pesto recipe at the bottom of this recipe. It’s easy to make and brings so much bright flavor into the dish. By the way, if you can’t find pine nuts or would prefer a less expensive option, you can substitute walnuts. I’ve done this a lot, since pine nuts can get pretty expensive. However, you do want to use fresh basil leaves and good olive oil. That will make a big difference in the taste of your pesto. (Feel free to add carrot tops or parsley, too, if you’re low on fresh basil.)
When everything is ready, ladle the soup into wide bowls, making sure to add plenty of broth. Spoon some of the pest into the soup and stir it in as you eat. Add a nice piece of crusty bread and a glass of white wine and you might just feel like you’re enjoying a meal on the sunny southern coast of France.Print
Provençal Vegetable Soup
Provençal Vegetable Soup is characterized by the basil-pesto topping, which adds a burst of herbal ﬂavor to your bowl. I’ve added some chicken to give the dish more protein, but feel free to omit it and use vegetable broth for a vegetarian version.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: Serves 4-6 1x
- Category: Soups
- 3 tablespoons light olive oil
- 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed (optional; see Notes)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 4 ounces cremini mushrooms
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons herbes de Provence
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, undrained
- 8 baby red potatoes, quartered
- Prepared basil pesto, for serving (see Notes)
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken (if using) and lightly brown on all sides. Season with salt and black Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, carrots, celery, mushrooms, and zucchini. Stir to combine. Add the parsley, herbes de Provence, and bay leaf. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Season lightly with salt and black pepper.
- Deglaze the pan with the wine by pouring the wine in and stirring while scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer until the wine has reduced by half, about 8 minutes.
- Stir in the broth and add the cannellini beans and Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
- Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaf. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Ladle the soup into large bowls. Serve with a heaping tablespoon of pesto on top. Stir the pesto into the soup as you eat.
- To cook the chicken, place 1 medium boneless, skinless chicken breast on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.
- To make the basil pesto, combine 2 cups fresh basil leaves, 3 garlic cloves, and 1/4 cup pine nuts in a food processer and pulse. Add 2/3 cup olive oil and 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese. Add kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Blend and serve.
Keywords: vegetable, provencal, vegetable soup, soup