Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Tricolore Pistou Soup

This colourful, Italian-inspired white bean soup would make an impressive entrée or main.

 I originally based this recipe on the idea of using the Xmas colour trio - red, white and green. Well, it didn't turn out that way. But when all is said and done, I dont care that its a bit more yellow than white and a bit more pink than red. It's still beautiful. The flavour packs a real punch, and this soup is incredibly easy to make.

This recipe is adapted from The Australian Women's Weekly Modern Classics. If there's one book you need, it's this. I grabbed it for a bargain £1 at a book sale at university, but wouldn't bat an eyelid at paying full price.

So to this soup which has my tastebuds jumping. You might be asking 'why the superflous language'? The green sauce looks just like pesto, so why call it pistou? Because they are slightly different. Traditionally, both were made with basil only. Pistou is essentially pesto without the pinenuts. So although it sounds more exotic and pretentious than pesto (allowing restauranteurs to knock up the price on their menus), ironically it's a cheaper version of pesto!

If, for reasons unbeknownst to me, you're not a fan of basil, the Forager Chef  has done an incredible post on other soft herb combinations which you have to try!

So while I would say that the pistou and chorizo are what pushes this soup up in the ranks, you can try other combinations, using rocket (arugula), watercress, fennel tops, etc. Or, if you can find it in the shops, try replacing the chorizo with firm, Tunisian merguez sausages, as in the original Womens Weekly recipe.

Here at Sugar & Two Cents we (I) don't like waste. And I see no reason to chuck away the celery leaves, so bung them in with the rest of the veggies or check out my post on other resourcefull ways to make the most of these savoury leaves.

Looking for more Christmas recipes? Perhaps my tipsy chai sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce tickles your fancy. Or impress the party with a chocolate orange bombe alaska with whisky-marmalade icecream and dark chocolate sauce. and as a tipple to wash it down, a fruity glass of passionfruit or cranberry and ginger sangria.

For a veggie entree, a slice of spanakopita is sure to satisfy.

What are your family traditions for Christmas dinner? Is there a dish you'd like me to reinvent? Stuck with how to use up Christmas leftovers? Special diets you'll need cater for during the festive season? Let me know, I'm here to help!

Tricolore Pistou Soup

Serves 8 


3 cans white beans (cannellini or haricot) OR 200g dried beans
1 tbsp each of olive oil and butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 medium leek, sliced thinly
200g celery sticks (around three or four sticks) and the leaves
240g carrots (around 2 medium)
1.5 litres chicken stock (6 cups)
1 bay leaf

200g chorizo ring, cut into slices
2tsp each cumin, paprika and chilli powder


2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 garlic clove, quartered
1/4 cup (20g) grated parmesan
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to season

If using dried beans, pre-cook them beforehand - follow instructions here.

1. Saute onion, garlic, celery and celery leaves, carrot, leek and bay leaf, stirring, until vegetables soften. Stir in stock and beans and extra seasoning if desired, bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered for twenty minutes.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the pistou and crispy chorizo. Place chorizo in a hot frying pan with 1/4 teaspoon each of cumin, paprika and chilli powder. Fry until crispy, then drain on absorbent paper. For the pistou, using a mortar and pestle or a blender, process the ingredients together until smooth.

3. Just before serving, ladle soup into bowls; top with chorizo and a spoonful of pistou.

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I've shared this recipe with the following food events:


  1. This looks soo good! Homemade soups are the winter dream.

    I've been trying to think of some ways to spice up bore chore christmas dinner veg, any ideas??

    1. Yes Flo! Do I just! First things first. If you're gonna brave the sprouts, a good idea is to first saute them, then add a bit of stock and wait until that's absorbed, then add some pancetta/bacon and toasted hazelnuts or pecans. A pretty standard, but winning combo. I did leeks & peas in lemon butter once - v. simple but good. What else? I love cumin or harissa with roasted butternut squash. What I've also done in the past is cooked beetroot and red cabbage combo on the stove using a decent glug of red wine, seasoning, a bit of sugar, cinnamon and a star anise, then adding toasted walnuts and a bit of goats cheese. Or you could even make a goats cheese sauce to pour over; either way I think it's a good way to offset the sweetness of the beetroot. Or keep it fresh and use the raw cabbage in this pear, cabbage and pine nut salad (link below). I might do a root mash this year but I think that has the propensity to becoming too sweet, so I'll salt it to the max and also add some chopped, sauted fennel and garlic.

      Also can I just say that if you're thinking of doing a veggie option also, this Moroccan spiced pie is so top notch (recipe below).

      With these suggestions I'm sure you'll have a party of palatial standards. Merry Christmas!

      Salad link: http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/20725/edwinas+red+cabbage+spanish+onion+and+pear+salad

      Moroccan spiced pie: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2295/moroccan-spiced-pie

  2. Perfect Soup for the winter .
    Thank you for linking it to my event


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