In these deep midwinter times I get fixated on warming and nourishing dishes, particularly soup. In a mood of typical January austerity, this easy recipe ticks all the right soup boxes for me, being healthy, simple and cheap. In fact, you can buy all the ingredients from Lidl making this soup cost around £2 to feed a crowd for lunch (a bit more if you factor in the pesto ingredients and throw in a loaf of their cheap but deliciously chewy ciabatta).
My long-standing love of tomato soup originated in the processed Heinz variety when I was younger, decorated with a swirl of Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce. Heinz use cream, but this recipe is dairy free; the creaminess in this recipe comes from the walnuts and sun dried tomatoes.
For the pesto, anything goes really. It’s a good way to use up any nuts you’ve got left over from Christmas, particularly walnuts, plus grate whatever hard cheese you can find, lurking at the back of the fridge: remnants from the Boxing Day cheese board, and the stronger the better. I use curly leafed parsley here, a relatively hardy herb which so far has survived the hard frosts we had over Christmas, but you can use the same amount of basil instead.
Leftover pesto can be used for spreading on toast, adding to pasta, or new potatoes and green beans, or other soup, like minestrone.
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 tins of chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaves
10 sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
500 ml hot vegetable stock (I use Marigold Bouillon)
50g walnuts, roughly chopped
1 tsp sugar
50g parsley or basil
50g walnuts, roughly chopped, or pine nuts
50g hard strong cheese, such as parmesan, grated
1 small garlic clove, crushed
150ml olive oil
Heat the oil on a medium heat and fry the onions for 10 minutes.
Add the garlic and fry for a minute, then add the tomatoes, bay leaves, sun dried tomatoes and stock.
Simmer for 20 minutes while you make the pesto (see below).
Add the walnuts and sugar and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
Whizz the soup in a food processor, blender or with a stick blender.
Add salt to taste.
Chop the parsley (if I’m using curly leafed parsley and a stick blender, then I tend to chop this quite finely at this point as it makes it easier to blend to a paste, but you don’t need to chop as much for basil).
Grind the nuts using a food processor, blender or stick blender.
Put all the ingredients together in a food processor (or in a jug if using a stick blender) and blend to a paste.