Tomato Soup

So simple, so delicious. The trick with any soup is long cooking, extracting every last bit of flavour that is available in the freshest ingredients that you can get.

Judiciously add a little double cream right at the end and you will have a soup that tastes suspiciously like an extremely well-known and popular brand of tomato soup – at a fraction of the price.

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RECIPE – feeds 6

2 tbsp olive oil

2 medium carrots, roughly chopped

2 sticks of celery, roughly chopped

2 medium onions, roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

2 vegetable stock cubes

2 tins of tomatoes

8 large ripe tomatoes

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

a good pinch of caster sugar

a small bunch of basil, leaves and stalks

double cream, to taste


METHOD

Heat the oven to 200C/ 180C fan/ gas 6.

Keep the tomatoes whole and put them in a small roasting tin in the centre of the oven for 20-30 minutes until soft and just staring to char.

Meanwhile, in a large pan, heat the oil and add the carrots, celery, onions and garlic and gently sweat on a low heat under a cartouche for twenty minutes until deeply aromatic and very soft. Include the green tomato vine stalks if you have them, they add incredible flavour. Just chop the stalks up into small pieces.

*Tip: Sweating vegetables under a piece of parchment is known as using a cartouche. It is a way of cooking that simultaneously sweats and steams the vegetables, extracting maximum flavour in minimum time.

Cut a square of baking parchment that is slightly larger than the surface area of your pan, push it down so it sits on top of your sweating vegetables and then tuck the sides down so the vegetables are completely covered. Keep the heat low and after a few minutes check to see that nothing is catching on the bottom of the pan, then re-cover and continue to sweat them until they are as soft as you need them to be and the aroma is filling your kitchen.

Turn the the heat up and add 1.5 litres of just-boiled water, crumble the stock cubes into it and add the tinned tomatoes and roasted tomatoes. Keep the tomatoes whole at this point.

Bring to the boil then turn down to a gentle simmer and cook for 15 minutes under a lid.

Remove from the heat, add the vinegar and sugar, stir well then season. Now add the basil, whole, and blitz to a smooth soup using either a stick blender or decant into a flask blender. If using a flask blender you will need to do it in batches.

If you have used the tomato vine stalks then pass the soup through a sieve to remove any tough fibres. Check the seasoning again and gradually add the double cream until it tastes exactly how you like it.

Add a little water to loosen it up if necessary, and serve with crusty bread.

You will love this!

 

Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Goat’s Cheese

Okay, it’s never going to win any awards for beauty, but the simple, fresh flavours unleashed by a little bit of roasting and a little bit of melting are just divine.

Once the tomatoes are roasted it takes ten minutes to make, and probably just ten minutes to eat, no matter how much you try and savour it…

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RECIPE – feeds 4

8 large, ripe tomatoes (or a larger number of various sizes), halved

4 garlic cloves, whole and unpeeled

olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp dried marjoram

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

400g penne pasta

200g firm goat’s cheese, rind on

a handful of basil leaves, shredded


METHOD

Heat the oven to 200C/ 180C fan/ gas 6.

Halve the tomatoes and lay them together, cut side up, in a small roasting tin. Push the whole garlic cloves into the gaps between the tomatoes.

Drizzle with olive oil, scatter salt and pepper over the top, followed by the dried marjoram and then drizzle with the balsamic vinegar. Roast in the oven for between 40 and 60 minutes until the tomatoes are soft and slightly charred.

When the tomatoes are just about done, cook the pasta in a large pan of salted water at a strong rolling boil, for the time specified on the packet (approximately ten minutes).

Meanwhile, remove the garlic from the roasting tin and squeeze the roasted pulp from the skin back into the tomatoes. Roughly mash the tomatoes and garlic and check the seasoning.

When the pasta is just al dente, drain it. Pour the tomato and garlic mixture from the roasting tin into the pasta pan, ensuring you scrape absolutely everything out of the roasting tin – it is all flavour. Tip the drained pasta back into the pan, cut the goat’s cheese in half lengthways, then into thin slices and add to the p[an with the shredded basil leaves. Put the pan over a medium heat, tossing and stirring thoroughly until the cheese is melted, the basil has wilted and everything is coated in everything else.

Serve in bowls with a simple green salad dressed with a quick and simple mustard vinaigrette:

3 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

a small pinch of sea salt

1 1/2 tsp of dijon mustard


Whisk it all together in the bottom of your salad bowl, drop the salad over it, and when you are ready to eat just toss everything together.

Here’s another quick tip: refresh your salad vegetables and leaves and make them extra crunchy by sitting them in iced water for 30 minutes, then pat them dry before dressing them.