Winter Pistou Soup

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).

Winter Pistou Soup | Cake + Whisky Winter Pistou Soup | Cake + Whisky

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

Winter Pistou Soup | Cake + Whisky Winter Pistou Soup | Cake + Whisky

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.

Winter Pistou Soup | Cake + Whisky

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 | Cake + Whisky

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
  1. Wash, peel and chop all the vegetables. Remove the top layer of fat from the pork belly slice and dice the meat.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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

Winter Pistou Soup

Persimmon Salad with Prosciutto & Mozzarella

Since Christmas is over, I don’t think there’s been a day I haven’t been day-dreaming about summer.

Long, warm, sunny days, sunglasses, sundresses, day trips to the beach, barbecues and picnics in the park… I simply can’t wait for it all.

Persimmon salad with prosciutto & mozzarella | Cake + WhiskyPersimmon salad with prosciutto & mozzarella | Cake + Whisky

But one look through the window and the harsh reality settles in: those long-awaited summer days are at least 5 months away and there’s not much to be done about it.

Not much except for putting a seasonal twist on some of my favourite summer recipes, that is.

Persimmon salad with prosciutto & mozzarella | Cake + Whisky

So if you’re trying to kick the winter blues away, may I recommend you give this vibrant prosciutto, mozzarella & persimmon salad a go?

Persimmon salad with prosciutto & mozzarella | Cake + Whisky

The winter take on a summer fave of mine, with persimmon making for a surprisingly-good colder-weather substitute for melon, it’s the top way to bring sunshine (and a much needed dose of vitamins) to those dark, gloomy winter days!

And the ultimate way to rise & shine while waiting for the real (summer) deal!

Persimmon salad with prosciutto & mozzarella | Cake + Whisky

Persimmon Salad with Prosciutto and Mozzarella (serves 1)


  • 1 ripe but ferm persimmon
  • 2 paper-thin slices prosciutto (or other air-dried ham), shredded into small pieces
  • 1/2 ball of mozzarella, teared into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 sprig fresh basil, leaves removed & finely chopped
  • little drizzle good quality olive oil
  • pinch mild chilli flakes (I used Espelette pepper, but Aleppo would work amazingly well too)
  • salt, pepper
  • a few drops Tabasco / balsamic vinegar

1. Wash & pat-dry the persimmon, then slice it as thinly as you can (using a mandoline if you have one). Place the slices onto your serving plate.

2. Top with shreds of prosciutto, pieces of mozzarella and chopped basil leaves.

3. Season with a good pinch of sea salt, a little drizzle of good quality olive oil and a small pinch of your favourite chilli flakes. Add a few drops of Tabasco or balsamic vinegar and some cracked black pepper if you wish and serve immediately.

Persimmon Salad with Prosciutto & Mozzarella