The weather is now freezing here in Britain, brrrr, so I am making a lot of soups and stews, which to me are the best thing for keeping out the chill. This classic Italian vegetable soup is a real winner: there are quite a few different versions of it, some of which contain meat, e.g. chopped ham or bacon. Obviously those recipes are of no interest to us whatsover, and it is very filling and flavourful in any case, without the addition of any bits of dead animal! This version includes pesto, which adds that perfect finishing touch to the flavour. The shop-bought pestos in jars are usually vegetarian, rather than vegan, but I have occasionally found vegan ones. If you can’t find one in the shops without cheese, you can always make your own - my red pesto recipe goes beautifully with this soup!
Prep and cooking time: around 1 hour 10 minutes
Ingredients (Serves 4)
1 large white onion, coarsely chopped
4 boiling potatoes, peeled and diced
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 carrots, peeled, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 zucchini (courgettes,) quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and diced
1 cup/150 g small soup pasta, e.g. distalini or orzo
1-2 tbsp vegan pesto*
3 beefsteak tomatoes (or 1 350g can of tomatoes without skins)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Grated vegan Parmesan cheese, to serve
*Or use home-made pesto, eg see my previous recipe, Maggie’s Rocking Red Pesto
1) Fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the tomatoes and cook 5-10 seconds; remove them with a slotted spoon and place in the ice water to cool. Drain the tomatoes and slip off the skins. Halve them lengthwise and squeeze out the seeds, then dice. (Alternatively, to save time, skip this step and use skinless tinned plum tomatoes).
2) Return the water to a boil, then add the potatoes, carrots, zucchini, onion, fennel, and tomatoes. Pour in the olive oil and return to the boil.
3) Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 15-20 minutes.
4) Add the pasta and cook until al dente, (still slightly chewy), about 10 minutes.
5) Season the soup with salt and pepper and ladle into soup bowls. Spoon a heaped teaspoon of pesto into each, sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve immediately with crusty bread or crackers.
Enjoy, let me know what you think! Your votes and comments are much appreciated.
Photo courtesy of Flickr creative commons.