A good friend and fussy eater asked me to cater a dinner at his house that had to include tomato soup (ideally with basil). I had never felt the need to make tomato soup being rather partial to a can of Heniz’s best, with a wedge of heavily buttered bread.
His soup had to be organic, natural and with a low sodium content. My soup is an amalgam of what I imagine to be a Tuscan roasted tomato soup and the good ol’ Heinz style.
- A couple of pounds of good, vine-ripe tomatoes
- A tin of Italian plum tomatoes
- A medium potato, chopped
- A large, white onion, chopped
- 5 plump garlic cloves (skin on)
- Tomato paste
- Plenty of basil
- Olive oil
- Large, heavy-bottomed pot
- Baking tray
- Hand-held blitzer
- Drop the tomatoes in boiling water for a minute and then remove the skins.
- Cut them in half, place on a baking tray. Season, pour on some olive oil, cover each in a basil leave and spread the garlic cloves around the tomatoes. Roast in an oven at 375°F for about an hour or so.
- Meanwhile, sweat the onion in a little olive oil. Don’t brown them. It should take around 10 minutes to get them beautifully translucent and soft.
- Add the chopped potato and a generous squirt of tomato paste.
- Add the tin of tomatoes with their juices, a generous collection of basil leaves (tied at the stem with string for convenience) and cover with water.
- Season well, cover and simmer while the tomatoes continue roasting in the oven.
- Remove the tomatoes from the oven before they blacken. Discard the basil leaves (or eat them!) and squeeze the pulp from the garlic cloves. Add them and the tomatoes to the soup.
- Remove the basil from the soup before blending if you want to (I did).
- Blitz the soup with the hand-held blender.
- Taste the soup. Season as you see fit and add a little sugar if the tomatoes are not sweet enough.
- Pass the soup through a sieve if you want a seedless, silky soup.
What you should know
I chose not add cream, but I daresay a little would not go amiss.
I had bought a carton of organic vegetable stock, thinking the soup might benefit from it. I opened the carton, tasted it and decided it was too salty and not very tasty. Ultimately, the soup didn’t need extra flavouring from stock. It stands up perfectly well on its own.
I pounded a bunch of basil leaves in a mortar and pestle, added a glug of good balsamic and three times as much olive oil to make a delicious “dressing”, a little of which I spooned into each bowl. It went down very well indeed.