rustic minestrone soup

Soup-er Suppers for Sizzling Summer Nights

Chill with these delicious vegetarian soups that can be served hot or cold with simple herb focaccia bread

The coolest soup can be served chilled or hot and these soup-er suppers, which are packed with fresh vegetables, are delicious either way.

Mop up the last bits in the bowel with herby focaccia instead of traditional garlic bread – a red hot combination on the balmiest of nights but these recipes will also see you through winter and are fabulous all year round. 

Rustic Minestrone Soup 

You can use any of your favourite vegetables and leftovers in this rustic soup. Credit: Alexio Pasquali
You can use any of your favourite vegetables and leftovers in this rustic soup. Credit: Alexio Pasquali

Serves 4 Prep Time 10 mins Cooking Time 45 mins

2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 white onion, finely chopped 

1 garlic clove, finely chopped 

1 carrot, washed and cubed

1 celery stick, chopped 

100ml passata 

1 ½ – 2 litres cold water or vegetable stock

100g garden peas

100g canned borlotti beans, drained and rinsed

1 courgette, chopped

1 medium potato, peeled and cut into cubes 

50g French beans, trimmed and cut 

80g Parmesan cheese, grated

Place the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until translucent. Next add the carrot and celery and stir until softened, making sure the vegetables don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. 

Pour in the passata, stir and then add the cold water or vegetable stock. Bring to the boil, cook for about 20 minutes and then turn down the heat to reduce. Add the remaining vegetables and leave to cook for 15 minutes. 

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve hot with rustic bread and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.  

Watercress Gazpacho with Manchego Croutes

watercress gazpacho soup
Gaspacho is the coolest of soups

Serves: 4 time Prep Time: 45 mins plus marinating and chilling time Cooking time: 10 mins

For the gazpacho

1kg ripe plum tomatoes, cored and chopped

1 cucumber, peeled and chopped

1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped

1 green pepper, deseeded and chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 spring onions, finely chopped

75g stale crusty bread, chopped

2-2.5 tsps sherry vinegar

50g watercress

2-3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

For the croutes

50g Manchego cheese or parmesan, finely grated

1 small baguette, thinly sliced

Olive oil, for brushing

Place all gazpacho ingredients in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Mix everything together, pressing down firmly to squeeze out the juices. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or preferably overnight.

Put the mixture into a blender and blitz until smooth. Check the consistency, adding more olive oil if the soup is too thick. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Cover and refrigerate again until thoroughly chilled.

Preheat the oven to 180®C.  Make the croutes by thinly slicing the baguette. Brush the slices with olive oil and sprinkle grated Manchego or parmesan on top.  Bake for 6-8 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.

To serve, ladle gazpacho into bowl. Sprinkle with chopped watercress, drizzle with olive oil and serve with the croutes on the side. 

Classic Gazpacho

Classic gazpacho soup is fantastic served chilled
Classic gazpacho soup is fantastic served chilled

Serves: 4 Prep Time: 20 mins Cooking Time: 30 mins plus 2 hours chilling time 

50g breadcrumbs

125ml (1/2 cup) water

1kg ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

Cucumber, deseeded, diced

1 large red pepper, deseeded, roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves

125ml extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon sugar, or to taste

1 ripe tomato, deseeded, diced, to serve

Extra virgin olive oil, extra, to serve

1 tbsp. sumac

2-3 tbsp. home-made pesto to serve if desired (optional)

Place the breadcrumbs in a small bowl and pour the water over. Set aside for 5 minutes to soak. Drain the water and reserve the breadcrumbs.

Add the tomatoes, cucumber, pepper and garlic to the bread and process until well combined and almost smooth. Add the oil and vinegar, and process until well combined. Taste and add salt and sugar to season.

Pass the soup through a sieve into a bowl and use a wooden spoon to press firmly to extract all the liquid. Discard the pulp. Cover and place in the fridge for 2 hours or until well chilled.

Ladle the soup into small bowls, top with the extra diced tomato and drizzle with a little of the extra oil. Sprinkle with sumac. Drizzle with the pesto. Serve immediately.

Herb Focaccia

herb focaccia the perfect accompaniment to soup
Herby focaccia is delicious with any soup Credit: Baking Mad

Prep Time: 2h30m Cooking Time: 35 mins 

For the Dough

500g Allinson’s Strong White Bread Flour

7g Allinson’s Easy Bake Yeast Sachet

1 tsp unrefined Golden Caster sugar

2 tsp salt

300ml warm water

50ml olive oil

For the Topping

12 sage leaves

5 Thyme or oregano sprigs

5 Rosemary sprigs

1 tsp sea salt

For drizzling: olive oil

Mix the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a big bowl. Mix the water and oil together, then stir in with a cutlery knife. Tip onto a lightly flour dusted surface and knead for 10 minutes (or use the dough hook attachment on your mixer). 

Lightly grease the mixing bowl with some oil. Put the dough back in, cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave to rise until doubled in size. 

Push the dough into an oiled, roughly 22cm x 32cm baking tin. Cover the dough again with a clean tea towel and leave to prove until doubled in size again. Preheat your oven to 200°C (fan 180°C, gas mark 6)

Scatter the dough with the herbs and sea salt, pulling the thyme and rosemary into smaller sprigs. Press your fingers all over the dough to make dimples. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden.

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