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
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.
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
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!