A hearty big soup/stew with a special twist thanks to the addition of a simple home-made pistou - the French equivalent of pesto. Thai basil will give the soup a slightly Vietnamese/South-East Asian twist, but ordinary basil works well too, aided by the lemongrass and hint of chilli.
1 large bunch of basil - Thai 'holy' basil or regular
1 heaped tbsp of lemon grass paste - or 1 stalk, chopped roughly
1/2 a red chilli, de-seeded and roughly chopped
2-3 tbsp plain oil (rapeseed or similar bland tasting oil)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
3 bay leaves
4 tbsp tomato puree
2L strong vegan stock - use bouillon such as Marigold red or purple tub; stock cubes such as Kallo vegetable etc
Pinch of sugar
100g orzo (small, rice-shaped pasta)
200g French beans - frozen work well
2 courgettes, diced
200g frozen peas
1 tin white beans, rinsed and drained - haricot or cannellini
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Prepare the vegetables and get everything ready to go.
2. In a arge saucepan, heat the oil then lightly fry the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes. Add the carrots and fry for another minute. Add the thyme, bay leaves, stock, tomato puree and sugar. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, make the pistou by blending the ingredients to a paste in a food processor. Using a rubber spatula, scrape it out into an attractive bowl and set aside.
4. To the soup, add the orzo, courgettes, green beans and peas. Cook on a medium heat according to the pasta packet instructions until the orzo is al dente (just cooked). Add the white beans and heat through. Taste, season with salt and black pepper as necessary. Remove the bay leaves and sprigs of thyme if using.
5. Serve the soup hot in bowls with a dollop of pistou on top.
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