This nourishing and hearty soup has been a winter favourite in my family for years - perfect for weekday lunches and easy suppers. The recipe is a medley of homestyle Italian tomato based stews and the lighter provincial French style Soup au Pistou. The result is a warm and satisfying meal with incredible flavour and richness. You can follow our recipe exactly, or substitute the veggies for whatever you have buried in the fridge. Celery, cauliflower, swede or parsnip would also be perfectly at home in this pot. You can also substitute the quinoa for barley, fregola any type of pasta if it saves you a trip to the grocery store.
Winter Vegetable Soup w Pesto & Comte
This soup is gluten free and vegetarian when following the recipe, and can be served vegan simply by leaving off the pesto and cheese. You can also substitute with Dairy Free Pesto and some capers for a vegan friendly alternative.
1 brown onion, roughly chopped
2-3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 large or 2 medium zucchini, roughly chopped
2 large potatoes, roughly chopped
Generous handful of green beans, trimmed and roughly chopped
1 tbsp quality tomato paste
400g tin of tomatoes
1L of vegetable stock
1/3 cup trio colour quinoa, rinsed
basil pesto (we recommend Roza's Traditional Pesto)
125g comte, 12 months old
quality salt* and pepper
soy & linseed sourdough, toasted
Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a heavy based soup pot. Add onion and cook for a couple of minutes until translucent. Add the minced garlic and stir until the aroma releases.
Add the chopped vegetables in small batches, adding a little salt and olive oil as you go. Stir regularly as the vegetables start to brown (colour equals flavour!).
Once all the veggies are in, well coated with oil and salt, and slightly brown on the edges, add the tomato paste and continue to stir to coat. Add the tin of tomatoes and stock, then slowly bring to the boil.
Once boiling, add the quinoa. Stir well and reduce the heat. Allow the soup to cook slowly over a low heat for about 45 minutes, stirring often. The soup will be ready when the texture has become thick, the quinoa is soft to the tooth and the vegetables are fully cooked.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide the soup between your serving bowls and top with a generous amount of pesto and lashings of grated comte. Finish with cracked pepper, and serve with toasted sourdough.
A note on the pesto:
If you are keen to make your own pesto, you will absolutely reap the benefits of incredible pleasure and flavour. To save time, a store bought option will work perfectly well here, but avoid bitter shelf stable versions that have had all the herby freshness killed by heat processing and choose something fresh from the fridge. We recommend Roza's Traditional Pesto; also available in a Dairy Free or Nut Free Version. These can be purchased in store and online.
A note on Comte:
Comte is a sensational French alpine style cheese with a remarkable flavour and beautiful melting texture. There are several 'grades' of Comte on the market; we sell a 12 Month Old Comte which is absolutely perfect for this application.
A note on vegetables:
I personally don't peel any of the vegetables for this soup. My cooking style is quick and rustic, so I just wash all of the veg in the sink with a few drops of Koala Fruit & Veg Wash then roughly chop. You can peel the potatoes and carrots if you prefer.
This type of soup is perfect for clearing out a glut of vegetables in the fridge or garden. Use what you have and don't feel obliged to follow my specifications. Cauliflower, swede, parsnip, turnip or celery could be easily added or substituted for the vegetables I've used.
A note on proteins:
To add a little extra protein to this soup, try adding a tin of borlotti beans, some chorizo or drop a few eggs in to the pot once everything is cooked and the soup is boiling.
A note on stock:
Homemade stock is best, but a decent quality store-bought stock will absolutely do the job here. Use the best quality you can justify paying for as it will make a difference. Powdered stocks are extremely high in sodium so reduce the amount of salt you add if using those.
A note on salt:
The type of salt you are using is a make or break factor in home cooking. My go-to is Murray River Pink Salt for it's ultra fine texture and delicate, mineral flavour.
A note on tomatoes:
Not all tinned tomatoes were created equally, so make sure you use the quality your home cooking deserves. Try to find BPA tins and choose organic where you can. Opt for diced tomatoes for the best texture.