Tomato soup is a classic comfort food. At university, if I was ever ill, Heinz tomato soup with bread dipped in it was my go to dish as it was a fast, satisfying dinner. What I didn’t realise at the time was quite how simple it is to make this for yourself! Whilst I always had a tub of some sort of homemade soup in the freezer, it was never tomato because I thought that I would never be able to create something that could rival the classic red can. I was wrong.
The variety of tomato you use will dramatically affect the final result of the soup. For most tomatoes, it will come out a bright orange colour which is usually darkened by adding tomato puree. For a much naturally darker soup, you can use passata instead of fresh tomatoes; passata is basically a less thick version of the tomato puree that you can buy in a tube. The tomatoes in passata and puree are already cooked and strained so the colour you get from them is far closer to the colour of the final soup. Using passata will also result in a much more intense flavour. If you are trying to make an econo-soup, you can use tinned tomatoes which don’t require the peeling or coring, just make sure to drain them first so you don’t water down the soup. Tinned tomatoes usually offer a truer flavour than using passata; however for most people, myself included, this is not really an issue.
It is a well known fact that tomatoes are a fruit. What is less commonly known is that they are actually a berry along with cucumbers, bananas, kiwis and aubergines (and not strawberries or raspberries). They are, unfortunately, not quite as healthy as people think. Before you get worried, tomatoes are not bad for you (unless you have an allergy etc.) however, other than being an ok source of vitamin C, they do not offer very much other nutritional benefit. There have been many claims that they can help offset heart disease and the effect of UV radiation on the skin however all testing in these areas has been inconclusive.
Fresh tomato soup is obviously not the same as what you can buy at the supermarket but it is still wonderful. It is true that if I was ill, I would want the childhood favourite as a pick me up (after the classic chicken soup of course #jewishpenicillin) but for normal consumption, a more sophisticated soup is preferable. Let me know what you think.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Cost per portion: from 50p (with tinned tomatoes)
10 ripe tomatoes (about 1kg after peeling and coring)
2 medium onions
1 large carrot
3 large sticks of celery
3 large cloves garlic
2 tbsp tomato paste
300ml vegetable stock
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Chop the onions, celery and carrots into smallish pieces.
Place in a large saucepan and lightly cook (with the lid on) for about 10 minutes – or until the onions have gone translucent and the other vegetables have begun to soften.
While the onions and carrots are cooking, peel and core the tomatoes.
To peel them, make an x shaped incision in the base of each tomato, pour over boiling water and leave for 30 seconds. The skin should now easily peel off from where the incision was made.
To core, cut into quarters and remove the stalky bit from the centre.
Once the vegetables have begun to soften, add the tomatoes and stir through. Leave to simmer for about ten minutes. The tomato should go very mushy and release a lot of liquid.
Add the stock and tomato paste and leave to simmer for another ten minutes.
Blend the soup until it is homogenous and silky. I like to give it an extra minute once it already seems fully liquidized as this is what makes the texture so wonderful.
Serve with bread for dipping and a swirl of cream.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe, if you love standard tomato soup, why not try out the red pepper version too? It’s just as orange and has an extra exciting flavour in the peppers.
Have a good one. I will be back next week with a delicious, ballet related dessert.