Gabriel Wilson loves to cook, eat tasty foods, and drink a glass of wine—without having to do the washing up.
How to Make Tomato and Basil Pesto Soup (With Croutons)
This classic tomato and basil pesto soup is a real knockout. It's easy and simple to prepare, good for a snack or a starter, and a real tasty treat. This recipe produces 4 good portions.
Tomato Soup Recipe
- 2 pounds of fresh, ripe tomatoes (whatever variety you fancy: beef, cherry, plum, etc.), sliced into quarters
- 5 or 6 large crushed garlic cloves, skin on; add more cloves if you love garlic
- sea salt
- ground black pepper
- a good handful of fresh oregano, although a good sprinkle of dry works if fresh is unattainable
- a good handful of fresh basil
- a good-quality olive oil
- Place your tomatoes in an oven-proof dish. Scatter over the crushed garlic, and sprinkle with sea salt and ground black pepper. Add your oregano and basil, mixing through the tomatoes. Lastly, drizzle over the oil evenly. Place in your oven for about 30 to 45 minutes on a medium heat.
- When your tomatoes are cooked (see picture), remove from the oven and leave to cool. This stage can be done a few days before you want to make the soup; simply keep the tomatoes covered in the fridge. They are also suitable for freezing at this stage.
- When the tomatoes are cool, peel the skins off (they come away very easily). Be sure to squeeze the skins to get all the juice and discard.
- You will have a wonderful rustic texture at this stage. Blitz to a fine smooth texture. When ready to serve, pour into a saucepan and heat through on medium heat.
Homemade Pesto Recipe
- 2 cloves of crushed, skinless garlic
- sea salt
- ground black pepper
- good olive oil
- 2 large handfuls of fresh basil, leaves only
- handful of pecorino cheese, freshly grated
- handful of pine nuts, lightly toasted
- Put your garlic cloves, basil leaves and pine nuts into your food processor and blitz.
- Empty the mixture into a bowl, adding a little cheese. Stir in the olive oil slowly, adding more cheese, till you get an oozy mix.
- Season to taste. The pesto can be made 2 days beforehand. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Crispy Croutons Recipe
- 2 slices of stale bread, crusts removed, cut into smallish squares
- sunflower oil to fry
- a good pinch of fine garlic salt
- a good pinch of dry oregano
- a good pinch of dry basil
- While your soup is heating through, mix your herbs and salt together in a bowl.
- Heat your oil in a non-stick pan on medium heat. Throw in the bread squares and move briskly around with a fork or spoon till golden.
- Remove to kitchen paper. Toss into your bowl and mix to coat the croutons.
How to Serve the Soup
- Warm soup bowls. Put a good teaspoon of the pesto in the bottom of each bowl. Pour in the hot soup. Add your fresh basil leaves and croutons.
- Add a little drizzle of olive oil (optional) and enjoy.
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Serving Suggestions and Ideas
- Serve your soup with white crusty bread or fresh baked rolls. Add a glass of dry white wine for a great supper.
- Alternatively, opt for warm melba toast with butter and/or a little extra pesto on the side to dip.
- Go all out. Serve with Mediterranean panini tomato bread, olive oil and goat's cheese for a knockout dish.
- Add a side serving of black olives and cheese sticks.
- Go simple. Serve with a portion of garlic cheesy bread.
The Soup Low-Down
This soup recipe is very low in calories and virtually fat-free if you opt out of the pesto and croutons.
- The basic ingredients (i.e. tomatoes, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper) are zero-calorie foods.
- The drizzle of olive oil can be a little less, but remember it's also good for you.
- To keep the croutons a little more diet-friendly, toast the bread, cut into cubes, and add to your herb and salt mix to coat.
- As for the pesto, add a small teaspoon rather than a large, and you've got a great soup for less than 125 calories.
Yes, I've done the math. Enjoy without the guilt.
© 2010 Gabriel Wilson