Chilled Tomato & Couscous Soup

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Appears in

Food of the Sun: A Fresh Look at Mediterranean Cooking

Food of the Sun

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1995

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Two ingredients which have a natural affinity are combined to create a refreshing chilled soup that has heaps of flavour and a positively dramatic appearance.


  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 4 large ripe plum tomatoes
  • 1 litre/1ΒΎ pt passata
  • 8-12 basil leaves
  • 300 ml/Β½ pt plain (natural) yogurt
  • salt and pepper
  • 12 small basil leaves, to garnish

For the Lemon Couscous

  • Β½ red onion
  • 1 red sweet pepper
  • 1 yellow or green sweet pepper
  • 1 hot red chilli
  • small bunch of flat-leaf parsley
  • 8 mint leaves
  • Β½ packet (225 g/8 oz) instant couscous
  • 2 lemons
  • 150 ml/ΒΌ pt extra-virgin olive oil



First make the couscous: peel and dice the onion. Deseed the sweet peppers and dice. Deseed the chilli and chop finely. Remove the stalks from the parsley and chop the leaves coarsely, reserving a few whole leaves for garnish. Shred the mint leaves.

Boil the amount of water specified on the couscous packet and pour it over the couscous. Stir for 2β€”3 minutes to stop lumps forming. Juice the lemon and stir in, together with the prepared vegetables and herbs. Stir in the olive oil and season. Chill.

Make the soup: heat the vinegar and dissolve the sugar in it, then allow to cool.

Meanwhile, blanch the tomatoes briefly in boiling water, then refresh in cold water. Peel, deseed and dice them.

Mix the passata and fresh tomato. Shred the basil and stir it in. Season. Now drip in the vinegar mix, a teaspoonful at a time, tasting after each addition until you like the balance. Chill.


Put a heaped tablespoon of couscous in the centre of each soup bowl. Ladle the tomato soup around this, then pour irregular splashes of yogurt towards the edge. Dribble a little olive oil over. Tear basil leaves and the reserved parsley leaves and scatter over all.

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