Of all the classic soup recipes, tasty tomato will always feature in my list of top flavours, especially when you need something heart-warming and cheering. Whether in a mug huddled round a fire or in a bowl on a beautifully laid dinner table tomato soup fits well for any occasion. And there is no doubt that home made beats a tin any day.
- 2 medium onions
- 2 sticks of celery
- 2 carrots
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 stock cubes (chicken or vegetable)
- olive oil
- 6 large ripe tomatoes
- 2 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes
- bunch of fresh basil
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
Wash and scrape the carrots then slice them. They don’t need to be too thin.
Peel and chop the onions. They don’t need to be finely chopped.
Peel and slice the garlic.
Put a large saucepan on a medium heat and add about two tablespoons of olive oil.
Add the chopped carrots, onions, and the garlic. Mix together and cover with the lid on a slant. Cook for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing catches the bottom. The carrots should be soft but not squashy and the onions should be golden.
Put the stock cubes in a large jug and add around 3 pints / 1.8 litres of boiling water. Stir well until the stock cubes have dissolved.
Add the hot stock to the saucepan.
Then add the tinned tomatoes and the fresh tomatoes. Add the fresh tomatoes whole, and if they are still on the vine, add them as they are, still on the vine. These will add to the intensity of the flavour.
Stir them in well and bring the saucepan to the boil.
Reduce the heat, put the lid on fully, and allow to simmer for around 10 minutes.
While this simmering pick the leaves off the basil stalks.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and add some pepper and salt and the basil leaves.
Use a blender of liquidiser to reduce the soup to a smooth consistency.
Add some more salt and pepper to taste before dividing up into serving bowls or mugs.
Make sure you only use a small bunch of basil. And when liquidising or blending start of with short pulses.
Until the end of the 18th century, the tomato was regarded as a life-threatening plant. Physicians warned that eating tomatoes could give you appendicitis or and stomach cancer. But in 1820, Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson, of Salem, New Jersey in the USA, staged a public demonstration watched by around 2,000 people all convinced he was committing suicide. He stood on the steps of the courthouse and bravely ate an entire basket with suffering and ill effects. The stunt worked, and Americans fell in love with the tomato. The first “tomato chowder” was published by Maria Parloa in her 1872 collection of recipes The Appledore Cook Book. But it wasn’t until 1897 that Joseph Campbell produced the first tin of Campbell’s Condensed Tomato Soup, placing the tomato firmly on the western world’s list of top soup recipes. During the bitter winter month of January 2010 the British bought over 57 million cans of Heinz’s tomato soup to see them through, enough to fill more than nine Olympic-sized swimming pools.