I seem drawn to foods that bring me back to my childhood lately. This soup is one of them. I have this one oddly distinct and very comforting memory of eating homemade tomato soup with buttered white toast in the kitchen of our flat in Tai Tam, Hong Kong, when I was about 5. In my mind, this will forever be a sublime, elite-level food experience. If only for a few seconds, eating this delicious soup takes me right back.
I’m sorry that my food posts haven’t been particularly groundbreaking of late (if they ever were) – my creativity is feeling a bit drained by juggling my degree and attempting to learn Italian, while keeping fit and not living in filth. Who knew that this would actually prove harder at times than holding down a job?! Recipes like this are perfect for busy times, because all they require for consumption is reheating. Garnishing with pretty sprigs of basil, drizzles of olive oil and burrata is totally optional.
As the old adage goes, if you want a job done, give it to a busy individual. That way, they can use said job as a mode of procrastination. Which is exactly what I’ve done by finally starting an instagram account for my blog, @deliriouslyalice, where I can spam my peers less guiltily because they’ve all opted in by following. Please follow if remotely interested. I promise to brush up on my food photography in return.
Makes ca. 6 Portions
Equipment: Some form of blender is pretty much mandatory here, stick being the ideal form.
5 garlic cloves
3 tbsp olive oil
100g shallots (pre-cut weight)
2 red bell peppers (capsicums) (350g for me)
1 (400g) tin tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1. Slow Roasting the Tomatoes & Garlic
I love making these, it’s so easy (if a bit of a waiting game) and results in a product similar to sundried tomatoes but without the excessive oil & salt. They’re great in salads or even as a snack, but I love using them to elevate the flavour of a soup.
These can be made quite far in advance of making the soup – store them in the fridge and try not to eat them before you make it.
1- Preheat the oven to fan 120ºc.
2- Line baking tray with foil and olive oil.
3- Depending on the type of tomatoes you’re using (I used large on-the-vine ones, the specific variety of which escapes me), either halve (if cherry) or quarter your tomatoes, removing the tough part where the stem meets the tomato. Spread out on baking tray.
4- Remove the tips of your garlic cloves, keeping the skin on. Add to baking tray with tomatoes. Add salt, to taste.
5- Place tray in the oven and leave for roughly 2 hours (depending on size of tomatoes), until the tomatoes have significantly decreased in volume and look dehydrated (see below.
6- Remove the roasted garlic from its skin (it will slip out super easily, as is evident below in the picture of my horrid red hand) and put ingredients aside for use in the soup.
2. The Soup
Unmentioned advance steps include dicing shallots, bell peppers and carrots, and measuring out any quantities.
1- Add diced shallots and 2tbsp olive oil to a large pot on medium-low heat and sweat them until soft and transparent.
2- Once shallots are softened, add chopped bell peppers and turn up the heat to medium, cooking until the peppers are starting to blister a little.
3- Add diced carrots and stir together for about a minute.
4- Add tinned tomatoes, stock, tomato paste, honey and balsamic vinegar. Bring to boil and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes.
5- Add oven-dried tomatoes and garlic (remember to remove the skins!!) and stir together. Continue to cook until the carrots are soft enough for blending (maybe another 20 minutes). Add more stock, salt and pepper to suit your preferences!
6- Allow soup to cool before blending (if using a standard blender) or just dive straight in with the stick blender.
Swaps & Serving Suggestions
This really is gorgeous topped with burrata, pine nuts, basil and olive oil. As I noted on my instagram story, it’s like a winter caprese. It’s also great on its own, or with buttered white toast if you’re in the mood for some nostalgic comfort. In the week since I made it, I’ve consumed this soup in a variety of ways, including as a sauce for courgetti (have I ever mentioned that I have an electric spiralizer?) and with roasted aubergine and grated smoked cheddar. The world is your oyster.
As ever, you can swap the shallots for red or white onions. The tomatoes can be any variety – obviously better quality nets better results, but this is a good use for tomatoes that are going a little squishy (nothing worse than raw squishy tomatoes) as the slow roasting method is very forgiving toward them. If you’re vegan, a pinch of sugar or maple syrup can take the place of honey (or omit altogether as the tomatoes & carrots give a naturally sweet flavour).
Leftover rating – 3/3 if you, unlike me, have a decent amount of freezer space, consider doubling up on quantity and freezing portions of this. I call that effort economies of scale. You can then defrost whenever you need a quick and comforting meal. Otherwise, it will store in the fridge for a good week.
As ever, let me know if you try this (so far I’ve managed to convince a couple of family members to trial my recipes) and have any commentary. In the meantime, I’ll be working on my food photography and trying to stimulate my creative capabilities so I can share recipes more groundbreaking than ‘tomato soup’!