Wholesome winter vegetable soup with vegan pesto and white bean recipe

Wholesome winter vegetable soup with vegan pesto and white bean recipe

Wholesome vegetable soups are the perfect option for a healthy meal during the colder winter month´s so we are happy to share one of the new soup recipes from our winter-spring menu – vegetable soup with vegan pesto and white beans.

Pesto originated in Italy and is traditionally made with garlic, basil, pine nuts, cheese and olive oil. These ingredients mean many pesto sauces can be quite high in calories, so we´ve come up with a vegan, nut-free, low calorie option, whilst keeping a fabulous basil-garlic flavour. We use rocket and parsley to bring a fresh yet peppery taste to this fabulous pesto. If you feel you will miss the cheese, then add a tablespoon of brewers yeast into the pesto paste.

Reaching your ideal weight

This month on the blog we are discussing how to reach your ideal weight, calories are an important consideration in this topic. As well as omitting the nuts, to help keep the calories low in this soup recipe we steam fry the vegetables. To do this, you use water to “fry” the veggies, instead of oil. Did you know there is 135 calories in one tablespoon of oil (olive oil, sunflower oil etc)? So by swapping to water frying you will automatically reduce the amount of calories in your food. You do need to remain vigilant however, and keep topping up the water (at least until the natural veggie juices start to release), as oil is traditionally used to prevent the veggies sticking to the pan. Read this month´s article on calories for more tips and information.

To give the soup a lovely creamy texture, we blend half of the white beans (white beans make a creamy alternative to using thick dairy cream). We leave the other half of the white beans whole, added into the soup, for some texture to chew. The thick creamy consistency, together with chunky white beans, means there is no need to accompany this recipe with bread!

To save preparation time we have already cooked the white beans. However, if you are using dried white beans, remember to soak them overnight, drain, then cover with water, bring to the boil and cook for around 1 hour (check the timing instructions on the packaging).

Beans are a great source of sustainable energy, so you should feel full of energy for a good few hours after eating this soup.

Vegetable soup with vegan pesto and white bean recipe

Serves: 8
Calories: 722 total, 90 per serving


2 leeks, finely chopped
1 red onion, finely sliced
1 stick celery, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 carrots, cut into small quarters
½ cup green beans
1 courgette, cut into fine quarters
4 cups water
Juice from 1 lemon
2 tsbp dried basil
2 tbsp thyme
2 cups cooked white beans

For the pesto
2 large handfuls rocket
2 cloves garlic
Handful fresh basil
Large handful fresh parsley
1 tbsp fresh lemon
1 tbsp tamari sauce
Water as needed to loosen the mixture


Steam fry the leek, red onion and celery in a large bottomed pan for a few minutes until soft. Add the carrot and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add the garlic, green beans, courgette and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add a little water to prevent sticking as necessary. You want to see that the vegetables have started to soften and the onion should now be starting to brown.

Add the water, lemon juice and herbs, then bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the pesto. Put the rocket, garlic, basil, parsley, lemon, tamari and 2 tbsp water into a large measuring jug. Blend together to make a smooth paste. Add a little more water if it is too thick.

Add in half the cooked beans and half the pesto. Bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes. Then remove from the heat and blend well.

Add the second half of the white beans. Bring the soup back to the boil.

Serve, with a swirl of pesto on the top

Plant-based food at La Crisalida health and wellbeing retreats
We offer a plant-based food menu here at the retreat. During the cooler months of Winter and Spring you can enjoy a tasty nutritious soup every lunchtime, in addition to other fabulous recipes. For more plant-based vegan recipe ideas check out our blog.

About the author

Lisa is one of the founders of La Crisalida Retreats. She is an Epidemiologist, therapeutic hatha and yin yoga teacher and also teaches mindfulness meditation. Lisa has studied NLP and hypnosis, as well as nutrition (she designs the menus).