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Main Dishes

Soupe au Pistou

This delicious soup from the south of France has everything your gut bacteria craves. Leeks, fennel and garlic all contain prebiotics which are a type of fibre that feed our healthy gut bacteria and encourage them to grow. Similarly, beans contain resistant starch which is another source of food for our gut bacteria. When our healthy gut bacteria are fed the right foods, they proliferate, crowd out the unhealthy bacteria,  and help keep our bodies healthy.

I modified this recipe from The Dean and Delucca Cookbook. It is so delicious and the orange peel adds this wonderful hint of citrus. This dish is almost entirely vegan with the exception of the Parmesan in the pistou. You can easily leave the cheese out of the pistou to make it vegan.

For The Soup


  • 1 cup of dried small white beans (I used cannellini) picked over and rinsed

  • 4 leeks (white and light green parts only), quartered lengthwise and sliced thinly crosswise

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence, (I made up my own mix with tarragon, oregano, marjoram, thyme and rosemary) 

  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 litres vegetable stock

  • 5 carrots, trimmed, peeled, and diced

  • 225 grams small white potatoes, diced

  • 1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and diced

  • 3 small strips of orange zest removed with a vegetable peeler

  • 400 grams canned peeled Italian plum tomatoes, chopped

  • freshly grated Parmesan to serve



  1. Soak the beans in cold water in a large bowl overnight.

  2. Cook the leeks in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large, heavy Dutch oven over moderate heat, stirring frequently, for 30 minutes, or until dark golden brown. Add bay leaves, garlic, herbs de Provence, fennel seeds and pepper, and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute.

  3. Drain the beans and add to leek mixture. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Quickly reduce the heat, and simmer the mixture, partially covered, for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until beans are tender.

  4. While the bean mixture is simmering, cook carrots, potato, fennel bulb, and orange zest in remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, deep skillet over moderately high heat, stirring often, until the vegetables begin to brown, about 15 minutes.

  5. When beans are tender (test by tasting or cutting a bean), stir diced vegetables and tomatoes into soup. Taste for seasoning. Cook soup over moderate heat for 5 minutes. Discard bay leaves.

  6. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with freshly grated Parmesan and pistou.

For the Pistou


  • 5 large garlic cloves peeled

  • pinch of course salt

  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves

  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil


In a blender mix the garlic, salt, basil, and Parmesan until just mixed. Slowly pour in oil until well blended.

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