I made it through my first full month at my first job as a doctor. It wasn’t that bad actually! Dare I say it, I’ve even enjoyed parts of it! However, it is tiring trying to find some sort of routine to my daily life with all the shifts and inevitable “just one more job” late finishes. It’s not a surprise to me to be finding cooking a chore but it is disheartening when I really do live to cook and feed folk, so I’m finding I’m constantly on the look out for quick to make but interesting recipes that require only minutes of my attention at any one time during cooking.
Gone are the days of cooking a curry feast of multiple dishes every night after work or making elaborate desserts, well for the time being at least! Where else am I to satisfy my need to feed than at the bottom of a steaming hot bowl of homemade roasted tomato and basil soup that takes maybe less than ten minutes of hands on prep?
Inspired by these fire engine red, shiny, fragrant, silky smooth vine ripened tomatoes I had ordered in our weekly shop, I decided I should utilise a book I’ve had on my shelves, read but unused as yet. That book was Jamie’s Great Britain. I’d received it free with a rather spur of the moment online shopping spree on The Book People – I warn you foodie folks, don’t “just have a nose” with your credit card by your side lol!
On a train trip to the fantastic vegetarian restaurant Green’s, I read this whole book cover to cover probably much to the amusement of fellow travellers who were equally if less greedily engrossed in their daily newspapers or trashy girl’s magazine. What can I say – I’m a foodie through and through! Amongst a couple of tempting recipes was one for tomato soup I earmarked to try ASAP, so I could stockpile some in the freezer in individual portions to take to work for lunch.
However, when I came to make the soup, I re-read the recipe and I wasn’t convinced it was the best way to get out the most from these glorious toms. He blitzed all the raw ingredients together before cooking. Quick, yes. Packed full of flavour? I was concerned. So I went about creating my own version which I present here to you today.
For one thing, Jamie didn’t use a stock at all in his recipe, which on one hand is good as even the best quality stock powders can give a delicate soup a very generic “savoury” flavour and I didn’t fancy making one from fresh this time. So I devised my own method. I roasted chopped onion, carrot, celery and whole garlic cloves in just a drizzle olive oil then when just softened, I tucked the toms in on top of these, the basic units of “savoury”.
Back in the oven until the taut skins wrinkled and popped, the once firm flesh of the tomato sagging beneath, leaching out a crystal clear consommé style liquid into the casserole dish and roasted stock veg platform on which they sat. Squeezing out the caramelly soft garlic from their papery white jackets and tearing over fresh basil leaves was all that remained to be done, apart from a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. An all-in-one stock/soup creation, if you will!
Whilst it took quite some time for the tomatoes to roast fully, it took seconds to blitz up into a smooth purée. A swirl of single cream enriched the dish. As one whom is known within her foodie community to be a “recipe fiddler” it’s shocking that I managed to leave it at that! However, welcome additions according to your own tastes might be adding a drizzle of quality balsamic vinegar or syrup, other herbs instead of the basil (rosemary would be so good), chilli would be just perfect for when the weather turns cold and the nights draw in.
Now one thing I did differently after having the first steaming bowlful was to sieve the soup to remove the seeds and teeny weeny pieces of tomato skin. If you don’t mind them, feel free to omit this step but I suspect most will prefer a smoother, slightly thicker but as smooth as passata style soup. And what a wonderful taste it was.
As one whom has never, ever had a can of Heinz tomato soup in her life, I cannot compare this to it but I can describe it too you as the most concentrated tomato taste I’ve ever had. The slow roasting of the toms and in fact all the other ingredients was key to developing the flavour which I kept clean by only adding the small amount of boisterous basil you see here. Also, I did not add any water but only used the liquor from the toms themselves to help purée the soup.
Bread is mandatory for soup in my life and here’s where I followed Jamie’s advice more closely – I rubbed toasted slices of a gutsy artisan beer bread with garlic oil then sprinkled with Parmesan and Worcestershire sauce before melting under the grill. Leftovers were eaten with leftover, partly baked taboons a Middle Eastern flatbread.
So if you’re looking for a one pot, healthy and clean flavoured quick to prepare meal, look no further. Let’s take comfort after work together, in one of life’s most primal pleasures – rich, silky, hot soup. Don’t forget the hunk of bread!
- 750 g vine ripened tomatoes
- 3 small carrots
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 2 sticks of celery
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- Small bunch basil 15g approx
- 2-4 tbsp single cream
- Salt and black pepper
Peel your carrots, top and tail them.
Chop the carrots and celery into equal sized pieces about 3-4 inches long then toss into a large casserole with the whole garlic cloves and 1-2 tbsp olive oil (just enough to slick the veg well with oil).
Make sure your casserole is oven proof and large enough to accommodate the tomatoes, with room to blend them later.
Pop in a pre heated oven at 200˚C and cook for about 20 mins until they are just starting to soften.
Check they aren't sticking then nestle your tomatoes, whole, on top of them.
Return for the oven and cook until the tomatoes start to sag - this took about an hour for me but will depend on which type of toms you use as well as the heat from your oven (the large pot means it has to sit lower in the oven).
You could leave them several hours on a much lower heat, checking occasionally if that suits you better.
When cooked, squeeze the garlic cloves out, tear over the basil and season well.
Using a stick blending, purée well.
(You can do it in batches in a food processor but it is the messier option!).
Sieve the soup into a large bowl to remove the tomato seeds and skins - if needed, reheat before serving.
Add cream to taste, adjust the seasoning.
Serve with bread of your choice to dunk.