Friday, March 5, 2010

Wholesome Tomato and Sweet Pepper Soup

I love tomato soup. Really, really love it. Specifically what used to be Campbell’s but is now Erin condensed cream of tomato soup; that one I loved to the point where it became an unhealthy culinary obsession. On any given day (ten years ago) you might have caught me having it for lunch, dinner, breakfast... Even a midnight snack at times! It was as much guaranteed to be in our cupboard as salt and pepper. Yes, that bad. Thankfully, those ten years have since taught that the world doesn’t revolve just around tins of glob. No, tomato soup is even more delicious – and rewarding – when homemade! Here’s a recipe for a very wholesome tomato and sweet pepper soup, perfect for warming up with, a good lunch or, in my case, your daily hit.

Serves 4/5

1200g vine ripened tomatoes
4 whole sweet peppers
3 cloves of garlic
250ml vegetable stock
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp sun-dried tomato paste or pesto
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

Remove any vines from the tomatoes, wash them and score on four sides from top to bottom. Place them in a large pot of boiling water for roughly five minutes until their skin is visibly peeling. Whilst they are boiling, finely chop the garlic cloves and set aside. Drain the pot, remove the tomatoes and peel off all of the loose skin.

Prepare the sweet peppers. Remove the top of each one, slice them in half lengthways and de-seed. Place each slice skin side up on a grill and cook at a high heat until the skin is visibly burned and detaching from the flesh. Remove and de-skin by hand. The pepper slices should no longer be firm. If they still are, grill them for a few minutes at the same heat on the reverse side. Once softened, set aside.

Now for the fun part: blending the tomatoes. You can do this using a normal blender or a handheld one but if the latter then make sure to do so in a large, deep pot or container to avoid any dramatic mess. Once you have liquidised the tomato, repeat with the sweet pepper slices. If you have trouble blending the sweet pepper, particularly with a handheld blender, then add a small amount of water and this should help.

Add the olive oil to a large pot over a high heat. Then add the garlic and cook until it begins to brown. Add the tomato, sweet pepper, vegetable stock, paprika, salt and pepper to the pot. Stir until all of the ingredients are well mixed. Finally, add the sun dried tomato paste and stir until it breaks down. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring regularly.

If you have a hand held blender, then simply stick it in at this stage and blend/whirl until it the soup has a smooth consistency. If not and just a regular blender, allow the soup to cool and then blend it. This is, however, just a personal preference given I like an even texture but if you don’t mind the occasional small piece of garlic then by all means, save yourself the time! Regardless, what you should now have in front of you is a large pot of wholesome, souped up goodness. Eat it on its own, with some bread or a serving of fresh cream for a really intense, rich experience.


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