Thursday, 9 February 2012

Staying put and keeping cosy

It's -3 outside and snow is slowly covering the ground in a picturesque veil of white. It's double glove weather, time to bunker down and avoid going out (except for those completely legitimate snowball fights, which must always be followed by a strong, reviving cuppa).

My solution to the cold is soup, and lots of it. I spent yesterday happily making this hearty soup, packed full of mediterranean veggies and beans, and with a few orzo (rice-shaped pasta) thrown in to make it a meal.

A tip: if you have the hard end of a piece of parmesan left over in the fridge, use that instead - or as well - as the grated cheese in this soup. Toss it in whole and it will give its cockle-warming umami tones to the dish. Delicious and thrifty.

Serves 6

1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 small carrots
1 aubergine
1 large courgette
1 stick celery
1 red pepper
400g cooked borlotti beans
5 plum tomatoes
1/4 cup (30g) orzo, or other small pasta
3 tbsp olive oil
2 bay leaves
a pinch of dried rosemary
a sprig of fresh thyme
1 1/2 litres water
5 tbsp grated parmesan

~for the pesto
40g basil leaves
8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp pine nuts

1) To make the soup, first cut the carrots, aubergine, courgette, celery and red pepper into 1cm dice. Heat the 3 tablespoons of oil in a large pan.

2) Gently fry the onion over a low heat for five minutes, then add the garlic and fry for a further minute. Add the carrots and aubergine and fry for another few minutes before adding the red pepper, courgette and celery. Break up the tomatoes with your fingers into rough pieces, and add them to the pot with the orzo pasta, herbs, borlotti beans and water. Simmer for 30 minutes, then add the parmesan and season with salt and pepper.

3) While the soup is cooking, make the pesto by blending together the basil, pine nuts and olive oil until you have a rough emulsion, then add salt to taste. Serve the soup with a spoon of pesto to stir through.


  1. Mmmmmmmmmmm, comfort food. Lovely!!

  2. looks delicious! thanks for sharing!

  3. When do the beans factor in? They're on the ingredient list, but not in the instructions.

    1. Hi avril, thanks for your comment - I've amended the recipe to include the beans before it simmers. Thanks for letting me know : )


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