Soooo, I might have gone a teeny tiny (huge) bit overboard with sales shopping in January.
Which has made me the proud owner of two sets of guest towels (how very grown up!), a beautiful breakfast tray, some very un-seasonal tshirts and a dozen candles amongst other things. And a little bit broke in the process.
I swear I’m gonna try and be better this month (spring collections look bloomin’ lovely though!), so a little bit of budget cooking is in order.
No, don’t do that face. Budget cooking doesn’t have to be bland and boring.
Proof if there ever needed one with Voucherbox’s amazing e-book, which just launched today and is filled to the brim with tasty, colourful recipes created by some of my fave food bloggers (and yours truly #blowingmyownhorn).
As far as I’m concerned, vegetable-laden soups are the best way to cook healthy yet comforting meals on a budget. And my absolute favourite one is pistou soup, a thick and hearty (almost like a stew) South of France classic.
I love this soup’s delicate, almost sweet taste. But I love it even more with a good drizzle of the fresh, pungent basil & garlic oil on top. #GarlicIsMyFave #SoFrenchItHurts
The end-of-Summer version of it was my birthday meal of choice and a very convenient way to tackle the glut of courgettes, green beans and tomatoes my parents’ garden would always provide in August.
The pistou recipe shared below is a cold-month variation on this childhood favourite and it’s just as good as the original.
Super easy, warming, vitamin-packed, low GI and extremely good value for money, it’s great for the cold winter nights.
Winter Pistou Soup (vegan or not, GF)
Serves 4 – cost per person £1.7**
For the soup:
- 1 big brown or yellow onion (about 170g), peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 big garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 sticks celery (about 100g), roughly chopped
- 2 big carrots (about 170g), peeled and roughly diced
- 1 small winter squash (about 170g), guts removed & diced
- ½ can chopped tomato
- 1 can cannellini beans, well rinsed
- 2 medium-sized potato (about 150g), peeled and roughly diced
- 2 handfuls leavy greens (about 60g – I used curly kale but spinach, spring greens, cavolo nero… would work equally well), roughly torn
- 100g fresh green beans, cut in bite size pieces
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt, pepper
- Tap water
- Not compulsory: 1 small slice pork belly (about 150g), diced
For the basil & garlic oil:
- Small bunch fresh basil
- 1 clove garlic (if you find the taste of raw garlic too pungent, blanch it for a minute or so in boiling water and drain well before proceeding)
- 200ml olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- Wash, peel and chop all the vegetables. Remove the top layer of fat from the pork belly slice and dice the meat.
- In a big saucepan, heat up 1 tbsp olive oil. Add in the onion, garlic and celery, season with salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes or until translucent.
- Throw the carrot (and pork belly dices if using) into the saucepan and cook until the pork is well caramelized on all sides (about 10 minutes).
- Add in the canned tomato and winter squash and water to cover, then bring to a small simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 30 minutes.
- Add in the cannellini beans and potato chunks, top with more water if necessary, then put the lid back on and cook for another 10 minutes before adding the torn greens and green beans, and more water if necessary, then put the lid back on and cook for another 10 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning accordingly.
- Make the basil & garlic oil: Blend together all the ingredients using a food processor or a hand blender, then pour into a small bowl, ready to serve.
- Serve the hot soup with the oil on the side for guests to spoon to their heart’s content onto the soup.
Leftover soup will keep for a few days in the fridge. And believe it or nor, is even better the next day! Leftover oil should be used quickly. It works really well with all sorts of things. Steamed vegetables, in tomato sauces, with pasta or baked fish (…) so get creative!
*This post was created in collaboration with Voucherbox but all words, images and garlic spirit animal my own.
**based on average supermarket own-brand prices