So here we are, finally at the end of my epic trilogy. Having made tomato ketchup and sun dried tomatoes I really craved tomato soup as something full of tomatoey goodness that can be eaten immediately. Having been quite intimately involved with tomatoes in the past week with all that labour of love, I had a somewhat irrational anxiety about picking the perfect recipe for the right kind of soup, as though these remaining few tomatoes were the last of Earth’s tomato crop and there would be no more. I was torn between gazpacho and this little spicy creation, and in the end decided to go with the latter. I know, the Sun will rise tomorrow again and I can have gazpacho then.
Tomato soup when growing up resembled passata that was thickened with too much flour and was often lumpy. The only good thing about it would usually be pasta letters or other shapes floating about in it – but even these were overcooked. This is not to knock my grandma’s cooking, she only does what she was taught to do. It is more of a general point that needs to be taken up in a cuisine where everything needs to be thickened so as to make it stodgier and stretch further. My grandma makes broccoli, cauliflower and tomato soup and they all taste pretty much the same: floury. Needless to say, this tomato soup is a far cry from those floury lumps. What I present here is basically sweet, roasted tomatoes in a chunky, summery soup with a spicy kick. This is not your cream of tomato soup, it is rustic, coarse and chunky. Above all, it tastes delicious. And that is a good achievement for something that requires two or three basic ingredients.
I have eaten this soup hot or cold. Both options are tasty in their own way. The recipe comes from my favourite cookbook, Leon no1. I believe you can even get this in the Leon restaurants. It is delicious, packed with vitamins and definitely a diet option. I made mine with no oil or sugar whatsoever and it does not spoil the overall impression in any way. Leon suggest you use a can of tinned tomatoes instead of around a kilo of fresh ones and I was really going to but I realised had so many tomatoes I could not see a reason to use the tinned stuff. If you wish to use tinned tomatoes be my guest – I have made this soup that way before and it is only marginally less delicious. So here goes.
Roast Tomato, Chilli and Cumin Soup (serves 4)
5-6 big, vine-ripened tomatoes
120 ml extra virgin olive oil
1 heaped tbsp fructose or 2 tbsp sugar
3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2 large red onions, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
500g-1kg tomatoes, chopped (you can pour boiling water over them and skin them, I wouldn’t bother)
salt and pepper to season
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Halve the tomatoes across the middle. Take a shallow roasting tray and pour on half the olive oil, sprinkle with the fructose or sugar, add the garlic and season. Lay the tomatoes on the tray cut side down. Roast them in the preheated oven for about 20-30 minutes, until the skins have shrivelled and the tomatoes are soft and squidgy and look roughly like this.
Meanwhile put the rest of the olive oil into a big, heavy bottomed pan and fry the onions, both kinds of cumin and the chilli over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft but not browned. This should take about 10 minutes.
Tip in the chopped tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes with the lid on for them to soften a bit, stirring occasionally. Pour in around 800ml of water and bring back to a happy simmer.
When the roasted tomatoes are ready, take them out of the oven and leave them to cool for a moment. Quickly pick off the skins, then add all the tomatoes and the flavoured oil to the saucepan. Simmer everything together gently for about 20 minutes. I prefer to leave it as chunky as that, however you can mash it down or blitz with a hand blender. Season to taste, eat outdoors, enjoy.