If it was august with a glut of in season tomatoes I wouldn’t be making this soup. Instead, I’d be gorging on chopped toms, at room temperature, sprinkled with sea salt. So, why make a tomato soup out of season. It’s simple. When I can’t be bothered to cook during colder months I’ll happily buy in a can of tomato soup to go with melted cheese on toast. Problem is, I never finish the bowl of soup. I’ve no idea what sort of gunk is added but shop-bought invariably leaves me feeling bloated – to the extent I could belch myself backwards to France! It’s doable. The French coastline isn’t that far away. Besides that, I’ve never made tomato soup before and wanted a recipe to hand. And I have to admit, whilst rubbing yet more tomatoes through a fine wire metal sieve, I couldn’t really envisage making this ever again. Until I tasted it.
Food snobs – not that they’ll be reading this blog – can sniff and guffaw! This proves, quite nicely, that if you know what you’re doing in your kitchen it is possible to use mostly bog standard supermarket fare and end up with something that tastes pretty amazing. And for my lunch, after taking photos, I was pleasantly surprised at how good this is. Especially with bits of crunchy twice toasted pitta shells, lots of torn basil leaves and baby plum (Roma) toms pan-fried until slightly caramelised. Even I didn’t realise they would be the icing, so to speak. Far nicer than sun dried tomatoes as their skins weren’t at all tough after cooking them. I’ll be buying lots more over the next months, pan-frying them and storing those in extra virgin olive oil to have them for salads and stuff. As for the colour of the soup, the lead-in is probably more accurate in colour. As the other photos were shot with strong bursts of sunlight shining through. Aah, the joys of longer days! And summer…
Tomato Soup, with basil and oregano
For the stock:
- 1 x organic carrot, scrubbed and roughly chopped
- 3 x celery stalks, washed and roughly chopped or cut into thirds
- 1 x dried bay leaf
- 1 x small organic garlic clove, trimmed and peeled
- 1 x organic vegetable stock cube
- 500ml (16.91 fl oz) x cold water
For the soup:
- 6 x salad tomatoes, about 840g, washed and cut in half – after cooking and rubbing through a fine wire metal sieve I was left with 250ml (8.454 fl oz)
- 20g (0.705 oz) x unsalted butter
- 1 x tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 5 x tablespoons passata + extra if needed
- 1 x tablespoon tomato purée
- 1/2 x teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 x teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 x teaspoon fresh lemon juice, use more if lemons aren’t as sour as mine
- up to 300ml (10.14 fl oz) x prepared vegetable stock, strained through a sieve
- single/light cream, to personal taste
- seasoning, both freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
- basil leaves, freshly shredded/torn or slice as chiffonade
- baby plum (Roma) tomatoes, washed, tops sliced off (to remove the green bit), sliced lengthways in half and pan-fried on their skin side only for about 15 or so minutes, or until soft and caramelised, to serve
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- There were several surprises with this, and the first was with using dried oregano. The product I’m using is quite strong in flavour, so like any other soup or sauce it’s definitely best to use less, allow to infuse for a couple of minutes, then add more to personal taste. And the soup had to be rubbed through to get rid of its texture.
- The lemons I can get my hands on right now are face puckeringly sour. It’s out of their season, and what I’m buying have probably been in storage since Winter. Purely because of that I had to use much less fresh lemon juice than I’d hoped. And only add it in 1/4 teaspoons.
- I’d bought sour cream for this as I felt its flavour would work well. How wrong was I! It wreaked havoc with the lemon used. Single cream will not only lighten the colour (not used in photos) but will give this a much more velvety consistency.
- Prepare all of the ingredients for the stock, add to a large saucepan with lid and put on electric heat No 4 out of 6. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to No 2 and simmer for up to 30 minutes. Strain through a metal colander, then pour the stock through a sieve before using.
- Put a heavy-based saucepan with lid on heat No 3. When hot add just enough oil to cover its base and add the tomato halves. Clamp on the lid and cook for 15 minutes, then turn each tomato over and skew the lid slightly. Continue to cook for a further 15 minutes, checking on them just in case their liquid evaporates. In that case reduce heat and add a splash of water. When nicely soft and slightly caramelised take off heat. When cool enough to do so rub the entire contents through a fine wire metal sieve into a suitable bowl. Set aside. At this stage I was left with 250ml (8.454 fl oz) of home-made tomato purée.
- This step should not be rushed – if either the passata or purée scorches you might as well throw the mixture out and start again as it’ll be bitter rather than sweet. Put a large heavy-based pan on low heat only. Add the butter, extra virgin olive oil, passata and purée and allow to cook for up to 10 minutes. Taste this mixture, once the butter has melted, and it’ll be slightly sour. After 5 minutes it will start to taste sweeter, which is why I gave this at least 10 minutes, stirring through occasionally. When the mixture is much sweeter add the paprika and oregano. Pour in some of the stock, through a sieve, and the caramelised tomato purée and bring to near boiling point. This will then have to be sieved and rubbed through using a fine wire metal sieve and wooden spoon. That way the oregano will be discarded. Add the lemon juice, more stock to personal taste to get the consistency needed and cream. Taste for any needed seasoning. Bring back to a mild simmer, and adjust any needed extra paprika, passata or, if necessary, add a little bit of sugar if not sweet enough.
- Very delicious served with freshly shredded/torn basil leaves.
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