FOOD: TOMATO SOUP

Roast tomato puree is a bril­liant, ver­sa­tile way to deal with a glut of ripe toma­toes and forms the ba­sis of dozens of won­der­ful recipes, writes Vic­to­ria Holtam

Canal Boat - - Contents -

Glut of toma­toes in early au­tumn from those pot plants on the cabin top? Make a puree that’s a base for de­li­cious soups, pasta sauces and more...

Of course the rain pours down out­side as I type this, but for­tu­nately I’d al­ready been out­side to pick the daily crop of toma­toes and cu­cum­bers. The kids love to grow a few bits and bobs and us­ing pots or grow­bags, these lit­er­ally can be grown any­where. You don’t even need canes to grow the plants up – tum­bling toma­toes can be left to do their own thing, no nip­ping out sideshoots or ty­ing up… and whetever va­ri­ety you choose, they are so, so much nicer than any shop-bought al­ter­na­tive.

In­evitably, sea­sonal pro­duce can be a bit boom or bust and you can sud­denly end up with a pile of ripe toma­toes that need deal­ing with. I hate wast­ing any­thing so this en­sures that when­ever you have too many, an hour in the kitchen will have ev­ery­thing pro­cessed and ready to go.

We love tomato soup as a quick, and tasty lunch, but this recipe is so much more than that. The end prod­uct can be used for a plethora of dif­fer­ent dishes as the ba­sis for a pasta sauce, added to a stew for rich­ness and sweet­ness, chilled to make a gaz­pa­cho, or used in cur­ries and shep­herds pies.

We do chilli vari­ants, re­ally gar­licky ver­sions, ones pun­gent with rose­mary and sage and then just la­dle por­tions into a freezer bag and use them through­out the win­ter when they de­liver a per­fect hit of sum­mer sun­shine when it is most needed.

IN­GRE­DI­ENTS:

1.5kg of ripe toma­toes Good qual­ity Olive oil 1 bulb of gar­lic Fresh herbs (bay leaves, rose­mary, thyme, sage and oregano all work well) Salt and pep­per

METHOD:

1 Take a large roast­ing pan and fill with a sin­gle layer of toma­toes. Cherry ones go in whole, big ones will be bet­ter halved, quar­tered or chun­ked. 2 Add a few cloves of gar­lic and se­lec­tion of your favourite herbs. Chillies work well, too, if you like spicy! 3 Driz­zle with a gen­er­ous amount of good olive oil (at least a cou­ple of ta­ble­spoons) and toss ev­ery­thing to­gether. 4 Sea­son gen­er­ously with salt and pep­per and roast for 30-40 min­utes (dur­ing which time your kitchen will fill with a won­der­ful aroma!) un­til thor­oughly and very slightly black­ened around the edges (but don’t burn your gar­lic – it’ll go bit­ter!) 5 You can whizz this up and then strain but my pre­ferred method is to use a large bowl and a large sieve and the back of a metal soup la­dle.

La­dle a cou­ple of scoops of toma­toes and juice into the sieve and then force as much through in to the bowl as you can. You should be left with a lit­tle pulp of skins, seeds, herb stalks and pa­pery gar­lic skins. Re­peat un­til all the toma­toes and juices have been sieved. 6 Leave to cool and then la­dle the puree into a freezer bag for easy stor­age un­til re­quired. If you can’t wait that long, add a lit­tle chicken or veg­etable stock and a dol­lop of crème­fraiche if you are feel­ing deca­dent, for a sum­mery tomato soup that’ll knock your socks off!

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