Tomato Soup with basil and oregano

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

INGREDIENTS:

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:

  • oil
  • 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.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Notes:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

All photographs within (Todas las fotografías dentro de) Feed the Piglet:
All rights reserved (© Todos los derechos reservados) – Copyright © Johnny H Hepburn


58 comments

    • Oops, perhaps they’re too acidic! Not being nosy, but toms are quite often off the list for a lot of people. Thankfully I can quite happily shovel them in my face – and get away with it. Or at least I think I can. Hmm, let’s hope so.
      Yes, just a hint of both the smoked paprika and herbs. I was actually quite surprised that I didn’t need more, nor any cayenne or red pepper flakes. As for the lemons I’m buying…

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  1. Gorgeous photos Johnny! The colour of that soup just makes me want to sip it right out of the bowl. I just love tomato soup and this recipe is definitely one that I will try.

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    • And I won’t be buying shop-bought again. Regardless of how much rubbing through is needed for a couple of bowlfuls of home-made. I’m hoping my instructions are sufficient, as several things surprised me. The most important being the passata changing from sour to sweet, just with butter and oil. Hmm, it’s like a roux – get that wrong and you might as well start again.

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  2. If there were beauty pageants for soup, this one would wear the crown, Johnny! Fantastic color you’ve achieved here. The seasoning sounds perfect. Delicious!

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    • Aren’t typos fun? Before you would’ve read this post I’d written, busts of sunshine?! What was I thinking! And your awarding my soup a crow is surely one of the nicest (I’ve changed it!). As for the colour, red is notoriously temperamental to get photos of. And I’m glad I don’t have that to do that today as the weather’s grey, grey and grey!

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      • LOL!!! Thanks. 😀 That darn I-pad keyboard is my arch nemesis…
        Glad Mother Nature was on your side that day…may sunshine return soon!

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  3. I’ve made tomato soup from scratch once. Lots of work, straining and stuff since I like it smooth, but the result was quite out of this world. I remember it being fresh and bright and clean, and didn’t have that “metal” taste like the canned tomato soup. But it’s sooo… much easier to just open a can! Okay, okay, stop whining, and just make the darn fresh tomato soup. I happen to have a bowl of mixed tomatoes, used as centerpiece on FF14. I wonder what color it’ll give me. Crunchy pita sounds good, too!

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    • You’re right about all three. Stating the obvious, though – shan’t be buying shop-bought again. What’s the point if nearly half gets chucked down the loo? I just can’t sup the stuff. Whereas this, I could’t get enough of it. And now that I know that bog standard toms can produce something this good I’ll be making this more often. And already hoping to come up with variations.

      The pitta turned out so nice and crunchy. Shame I didn’t realise that before taking shots. As this looked good with broken pitta, the pan-fried baby plum (Roma) toms and lots of basil.

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  4. As much as I like tomatoes, I never been a fan of tomato soup since I have not had a good one. And your soup looks so good and just looking at the recipe, I’m sure it’s delicious. Beautiful photo. 🙂

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    • Now I can safely say that home-made tomato soup is far better than anything in a can. I have to admit I didn’t expect this to turn out nearly so good using very mediocre toms on special offer in one of my local stores. And thanks, re photo. 🙂

      Like

    • I’ll be in the news, yet! Over to France faster than hovercraft! But where to store the duty-free on the way back??

      Are your grape toms the same as our baby plum (Roma) tomatoes (must Google)? If so, aren’t they too delicious. I’m so pleased that store is selling them again. So much more flavoursome than cherry toms I can usually buy.

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      • Just stuff your duty-free in a backpack! 😉

        Our grape tomatoes are the size of a grape…how large are your baby plums? Because our Roma tomatoes are usually a few inches in diameter. I tried to grow my own tomatoes one year. They were little pear tomatoes and quite tasty. They were even smaller than the grape toms and twice as sweet.

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        • Well, I’ve none left. But they’re not nearly as small as a grape. At a guess probably between 1 and 1 1/2 inches in length. I’ve just Googled grape toms and they do sound similar. I love ’em as they always taste much better than cherry tomatoes do. But there’s only one store here that caries them. Luckily, they’re on special offer next week so I’m going to buy a few punnets and pan-fry them, then store them in evo oil. Just to have them for hummus & pitta, salads and stuff.

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  5. I’m going to need lots of soup recipes to try out this time of year Johnny, so it’s great that you’ve added this one to my list (especially while the toms are still looking beautiful at the markets!) That colour is superb!

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    • If you can get your hands on really nice toms I wouldn’t go with this recipe. It’s devised to use bog standard hothouse fayre. I’m not even sure how I’d go about making this with decent produce. A lot less stock to begin with. Maybe even more along the lines of an acquacotta, something I must make again. Well, let me clarify! I shan’t be popping over to Tuscany and replicating what would be made there. Mine is loosely based on the idea. Essentially slow cooking everything for well over an hour, and made without stock. Actually, they turned out really well. Hmm, even though I haven’t been cooking soup often it seems like a nice enough theme to work on.

      Like

    • Are you working for DHL these days?! Hmm, I wonder if this would be freezable. Might turn out too wet after reheating.

      It’s not that I found this difficult, even making it for the first time. It’s just a bit of a chore, rubbing through so much stuff. And the oregano pithed me right off as I had to rub the soup through to get rid of it. This is actually the sort of thing I enjoy making, in stages, as I can get on with other stuff. And it stores well. That’s so important for me. As you know I’m only ever cooking for myself.

      The little tom storer is another German supermarket special from last week. It’s http://www.msc-international.com which seems to be Canadian. I’ll be keeping it as a prop only. As I seem to smash everything else! I’ve dropped this one once already.

      Like

      • 🙂 Thanks for the link! And no, I don’t work for DHL, otherwise present them with the idea them to come up with an affordable program for bloggers that would let them send food packages to other bloggers, and keep the food fresh as well!

        Like

        • Oh sorry, I have brain/typing coordination problems apparently – I meant to say “…otherwise I would present them with the idea to come up with…”

          Like

        • Actually, great idea. As no one ever gets the chance of eating what I cook – which is maybe just as well some days. I get the impression that shipping in the States is light years ahead of what it is over here.

          Like

    • This is so strange. Somehow I’ve just found your comment whilst changing my name that comes up along with the gravatar. And this comment is two months old already! Oops. Don’t quite know how this didn’t show up. Anyway, thanks for the comment and apologies for the really late response!

      Like

    • Thanks. It’s kind of perfect for me to cook as I can clamp on lids, set timer and get on with other stuff. And I’ll definitely make this again as apart from rubbing stuff through it’s fairly easy to make. Caramelising the toms is something I always do for tomato sauces. As it’s just not possible to buy really flavoursome toms here. Excepting beef toms. I suppose they take longer to mature naturally.

      Like

      • Ah, yes, I remember. It is a great climate for cruciferous vegetables and other greens (I grew lettuce all season in the UK, which you cannot do here). However, does not have quite the sun needed for good seasonal tomatoes.

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        • And that’s the polite way of putting it! Someone I used to know had an amazing allotment nearish to Heathrow, where he grew 8 differing types of toms. Of course, you can imagine the glut during August. Poor guy hardly knew what to do with! Good for me, though. As I’d happily return home with a large bag of them. It’s just not easy to stagger tomato plants over here.

          Like

  6. Stunning photographs, Johnny! I’ve only ever made an oven roasted tomato and red pepper soup, which was to die for. I will try your recipe this summer when the tomatoes are in full force!

    Like

    • As I’ve commented to Gather and Graze this recipe isn’t really suitable for those tomatoes that have wonderful flavour. That’s why there’s passata and other ingredients used, to help compensate for the lack of flavour the tomatoes I can buy on a regular basis have. Now I’m curious about making soup with really nice toms, something I’ve never wanted to do before. But I think I would cook it very differently.

      Like

      • Well, keep us posted about the next version. This is what I love about blogging! We can all learn from each other’s experiences! Thanks so much for co-hosting last week! You and Saucy made a great team. Have a great weekend!

        Like

        • It’s just as well I check Spam from time to time. As this was found amongst those wretched comments selling something! Anyway, yes! I’ll definitely try a summery version. If I ever get the chance of buying decent salad stuff. As my local shops aren’t even selling locally sourced strawberries. Last week I grabbed a punnet of beautifully fragrant strawberries that were imported from Spain – tasted amazing. No British strawberries yet. The weather really has been that awful over here.

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          • That’s strange, isn’t it? Lately several comments on my blog have been dumped into the spam box…I wonder if wordpress needs to do an update or something…Hopefully the weather in Britain is going to improve quickly!! You guys need some sun! Spring is definitely here in the Pacific Northwest and we didn’t even have a bad winter…luck of the draw, I guess.

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  7. I’m missing our long summer days! Now it’s dark soon after 5pm and my only chance of getting a photo of anything is just before leaving home for work in the morning, and even that is getting a tad dodgy. *sob* PLUS, if I belched anywhere I’d land in Canberra – our nation’s capital, much duller than France.

    Gorgeous soup though, looks like just the thing for these (non-skycladding) autumn/winter days.

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    • Couple of days ago we had the perfect weather, with a strong sea breeze that felt warm. So far the rest are maybe 3 or 4 C more than we had most of Winter. Not that I’m complaining. To be out of BWT with longer evenings is in itself a joy. If anything, I could whinge about how strong the light is streaming in from the west. To the extent I could do with nets for those windows. To help diffuse.

      This is perfect for out of season. And truly surprised me. It’s depth of flavour was really good. Could’ve been better, though. The lemons here really are desperately sour. And for me lemon can either break or make this soup.

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    • Pleasure! I’ll be popping back to yours, partly as I’m loving stir-fries. But not in much luck at the moment with regard to picking up interesting products to enhance them. Hence the reason there aren’t any recipes of mine on here. Not yet, anyway. 🙂

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    • The colour turned out really well. It’s more of an orange-red. Which may not be so apparent within photos. However, it surprised me somewhat as supermarket bought toms over here tend to be insipid in their colour and flavour. So I was very pleased with this soup.

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