15 September 2012

You Say "Tomato", I Say "Pour Me a Bowl."

Bail Tomato Soup
Den Haag is sidling up next to soup season. And there's nothing more I love for a lazy weekend lunch than grilled cheese served next to a steaming bowl of tomato soup. The real kind, not the stuff from a can.

This easy peasy recipe has satisfied my seasonal craving through and through.

Happy autumn!

simple tomato-basil soup
adapted from the BBC's Good Food
  • 1.5kg/2.5 lbs really ripe tomatoes
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 celery stick
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/8 cup tomato puree (tomato paste)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1.2 liters/2 pints hot vegetable stock
  • 1 bunch of basil leaves, roughly torn
  • Dash of light soy sauce
  • Sea salt, to taste
  1. Cut each tomato into quarters, peel the shallots, and chop the carrot and celery into small pieces.
  2. Spoon the oil into a large heavy-based pan and heat it over a low heat. Hold your hand over the pan until you can feel the heat rising from the oil, then tip in the shallots, garlic, carrot, and celery, and mix them together with a wooden spoon. Still with the heat low, cook the vegetables until they're soft and faintly colored, for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Holding the tube over the pan, squirt in about 2 tsp of tomato purée, then stir it around so it turns the vegetables red. Stir in the tomato paste, then add the chopped tomatoes. Sprinkle in the brown sugar, and a bit of black pepper. Add 2 bay leaves to the pan. 
  4. Stir to mix everything together, put the lid on the pan and let the tomatoes stew over a low heat for 10 minutes until they start to break down, stirring a few times.
  5. Pour in the vegetable stock and the basil, stirring to mix it with the vegetables. Turn up the heat to high and wait until everything is bubbling, then turn the heat down to low again and put the lid back on the pan. Cook gently for 25 minutes, stirring a couple of times. At the end of cooking the tomatoes will have broken down and be very slushy looking.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat, take the lid off and stand back for a few seconds or so while the steam escapes, then fish out the pieces of bay leaf and throw them away. Ladle the soup into your blender until it's about three-quarters full, fit the lid on tightly and turn the machine on full. Blend until the soup is completely smooth. Repeat with the soup that's left in the pan. (If desired, the soup may now be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost before reheating.)
  7. Pour the puréed soup back into the pan over medium heat for a few minutes, adding the soy sauce. Stir occasionally until you can see bubbles breaking gently on the surface. Taste a spoonful and add a pinch or two of salt if you think the soup needs it, plus more pepper, if desired. If the colour's not a deep enough red for you, plop in another teaspoon of tomato purée and stir until it dissolves. Ladle into bowls and serve, topped with a dash of grated parmesan, a dollop of crème fraîche, and a sprig of parsley.