Lockdown number 5, winter, dull days and cold weather…
The COVID lockdown I can deal with. Its supposed to be a short one, just five days, we will see…
Winter and cold weather are another thing! I cannot cope with the cold weather, the shorter daylight hours, dull days, oh, and did I mention the cold… I know we are now on the right side of the solstice and the days are getting longer, but last night I was in denial… I needed warm weather and warm weather food that would suit a cold winter’s night.
So with dodgy tomatoes on hand, some sad looking basil that needed to be used up, I decided to try and make a flavourful tomato soup. I started with a recipe, but that soon went out of the window! Winter tomatoes are nothing short of sad and flavourless – nevertheless they needed to be used, and I needed a touch of summer. So with garlic, red onions, dodgy winter tomatoes, sad basil, and some tomato paste, I set to work.
First I rinsed the tomatoes, quartered and cored them and threw them into a baking dish. Then I found a red onion and a full head of garlic, peeled the onion and cut it into wedges, then just pulled all of the cloves of garlic loose and threw the onion, together with the unpeeled garlic cloves, into the baking pan with the tomatoes, a quick drizzle of olive oil and a scattering of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and popped it into a preheated oven at 200˚C/400˚F, for 45 minutes, until everything was nice and soft, and there was a little charring starting to happen.
Meanwhile I quickly diced some celery, onion and carrot, and once the tomatoes were removed from the oven, began to saute the diced veg. While they sauteed, I quickly removed the peel from the tomatoes (it just slipped off) and also the skin from the garlic. Then threw the tomatoes, garlic and onion into the pot, giving it a quick stir. Next to go in was some water and a chicken stock cube (you could use homemade chicken stock if at hand, or veg stock). Now it was time to get the flavours happening, so a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste, salt, pepper and some sugar to cut through the acidity of the tomatoes.
Finally, I threw some finely chopped basil into the bowl of the blender, and after allowing the soup to cool for a bit, added it to the blender along with the basil. Whizzed it up into a puree, returned it to the pan and tweeked the seasoning a little more.
As I was doing this, I was wondering how to add a little more freshness to it… I am not a huge fan of adding copious amounts of cream to my soups, but a drizzle of cream or dollop of yoghurt can take your soup to the next level! I had some goats cheese in the fridge, that was it!
I sliced a few rounds of goats cheese, grabbed a few little sprigs of basil leaves, drizzled a little extra virgin olive oil, and there it was…
My touch of summer in the midst of winter!
A tomato soup to make during the cold winter months, when you don't have fresh sunripened tomatoes from the garden, bringing a little taste of summer to the table.
- 1 kg Roma tomatoes cored and quartered
- 1 large red onion peeled and cut into wedges
- 1 head of garlic cloves removed and skin on
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 medium carrot diced
- 1 stalk celery diced
- 1 litre chicken stock
- 1/3 cup tomato paste
- 1/4 cup finely sliced basil leaves
- 1 tsp sugar
- sea salt
- fresh ground black pepper
- To Serve
- 80 g chévre/goats cheese
- sprigs of fresh parsley
- extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
- fresh ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200˚C/400˚F.
Place the tomatoes, red onion and garlic into a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and season with a little salt and pepper.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, until everything was nice and soft, and there was a little charring starting to happen.
Remove from oven and allow to cool a little
Heat a large stockpot over medium-low heat and add the olive oil.
Toss in the diced onion, carrot and celery and sauté until the onion is translucent.
Meanwhile remove the skins from the tomatoes (they should just slip off), and slip the garlic out of its skin.
Add the tomatoes, red onion and garlic to the pot and stir to combine.
Add the chicken stock and tomato paste and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.
Add the basil into the bowl of a blender or food processor, and then add the soup and blend to purée (you may need to do this in batches).
Return the soup to a clean pot, carefully reheat and adjust seasoning (you may need to add a little more sugar, depending on the acidity of the tomatoes).
Serve hot finished with slices of chévre, sprigs of fresh basil, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a grind of freshly ground black pepper.
- Feel free to use canned tomatoes or tomato passata, I'm sure that they would work perfectly well
- I am looking forward to trying this with garden fresh, heirloom tomatoes in the summer. I am sure that I would not need as much, if any, tomato paste then.
- For vegan alternative, omit the chèvre.
Keep warm, pretend all is OK and until next time…