PESTO SOUP

When I first came up with the idea of making a pesto soup I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it work; pesto can be quite a strong flavour and I was worried it may be too rich. I managed to get the balance right and made a fantastic, elegant and hearty soup. I came up with the idea to serve it with garlic bread and fresh tomatoes as a sort of twist on Bruschetta. It all comes together really well and would be ideal as a starter for a dinner party.

You start by making a pesto; I have a recipe I made up which tastes great. I really prefer homemade pesto compared to the shop bought jars and it takes barely any time to make. Add all the ingredients to a blender and it’s ready. You can buy vegetarian Parmesan if you want to keep the dish completely vegetarian, always check the label as some cheeses are processed using parts of the animal such as rennet.

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Now you have your pesto it’s time to start the base for the soup. Celery and onion goes into the pot, adding the tiniest bit of oil to get it going and soften on a medium to low heat. Remember we have the oil from the pesto – so we don’t want to overdo it with the calories. Now add your pesto and mix it all in together.

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You’ll then need 1 litre of stock (whether it is chicken or vegetable) and one large potato (skinned and chopped). Add these to the pan and then bring to the boil. If you prefer a thick soup then you can add more potatoes. Bring that to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on. When that’s done, turn the heat off and let it cool a little. Use a hand blender or liquidiser to blitz it into a smooth consistency. Take extra care in this step not to burn yourself!

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Chop the tomatoes and season with salt pepper and a little olive oil. You can roast the tomatoes if you like but I prefer them fresh like they come on bruschetta. To serve you can then chuck them in before eating or do it like me – mix it up! Put some on the bread and dip that in the soup or just throw some tomatoes straight in.

tomatos

The combination is great, with the fresh seasoned tomatoes cutting through that tasty soup! Grate some Parmesan and grind some black on top to finish.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 Whole onion (peeled and diced)
  • Celery stick (chopped)
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock
  • 1 large potato (peeled and diced)
  • Garlic bread and seasoned chopped tomatoes to serve with

For pesto

  • 30g fresh basil
  • 40 grams of pine nuts (toasted optional)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 50g parmesan
  • 1 large clove garlic

Method

  1. For a fuller flavour, toast the pine nuts on a dry, low heat in a pan until a little browned.
  2. Add the pine nuts, basil, extra virgin olive oil, parmesan and garlic to a blender and blitz until a coarse paste.
  3. Add the onion and celery to a pan with only a teaspoon of oil. Fry until soft for 3 or 4 minutes.
  4. Add the pesto from the blender to the pan and cook for a further 3 minutes keeping it at medium to low heat.
  5. Add your peeled and diced potato, along with the litre of stock to the pan and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on
  6. Whilst waiting for the soup to cook through, chop your tomatoes and season with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Add your garlic bread to the oven following the guidelines or make your own!
  7. Once the soup has finished simmering and the potato is cooked through, use a hand blender or a liquidiser to blend until the soup is of a smooth consistency with no lumps.
  8. Serve!

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