Soup season is upon us

Now I know these days that making your own soup might seem like an extravagance that no one has time for – especially when you’re rarely out of reach of a fairly decent range of cartons of soup that’ll satisfy most all of your soupy requirements, but I’d urge you to think twice about making your own for a few reasons.

First – you know what’s in it, you’re never going to be disappointed by it being all cheap filler or shocked by it being filled with additional stabilizers or poor quality ingredients. Second it’s shockingly easy to make really good soup: most are just a quick burst of prep that you can normally do in 10 to 15 minutes, the rest of the cooking time is rarely anything more involved than allowing it to simmer, cool and the blitzing it in a food processor, none of which lets be honest are stressful in anyway.

I first made this roast tomato and pepper soup after buying a glut of beautiful heritage tomatoes from Borough Market – I was making marinara sauce – but wildly overestimated how many tomatoes I’d need and they were just so pretty! But now I go out purposefully to buy extra just so I can make this deeply aromatic roasted tomato and pepper soup.


Roast Tomato Soup

Despite the amount of ingredients there’s actually not much prep, while you’re preheating your oven to 430°f or 220°c, halve the tomatoes, peel and crack the garlic cloves using the heal of a knife, chop your onion and potato roughly into cubes and deseed and dice the pepper.

Place the tomatoes and garlic into a deep baking tray and drizzle with 2tbsp of oil, seasoning well with salt and pepper, before roasting for 30 minutes – you’re looking for them to be soft and starting to char, that blackness is where your roast flavor is coming from, it’s the sugars caramelizing so don’t be scared of it!

While everything is roasting in the oven, heat a single tablespoon of oil in a heavy pan and fry the onion, potato and peppers over a fairly high heat stirring regularly until your onion is transparent and the potato is beginning to crisp, (this was around 8 minutes for me in my pan, on my hob – yours will be different – so keep an eye on it), once you’re there stir in the tomato paste and pour in the vegetable broth (I make mine from the jelly stock cubes and that’s just fine), season with extra salt; cover and bring the mixture to a boil.

Once you’ve reach a boil reduce the heat, and allow the mixture to simmer for about 15 or 20 minutes, you want the potato to be tender so it starts to release its precious starch – that’s what will turn the watery broth into a thick hearty soup. You’re now ready to bring it all together: add your freshly roasted tomatoes and garlic to this mix at this point and throw in your basil, keeping just a little aside for garnishing if you’re going to eat straight away.

You’ve got a few choices here now: if you want to eat it straight away use a stick blender to puree the mix, and serve immediately with a garnish of shaved parmesan, extra basil and big chunks of bread or even more gluttonously some cheesy garlic bread – you won’t regret upgrading your bread here!

Alternatively this soup stores well, either in the fridge for a few days, in the freezer for weeks or pressure canned for months in a cool dark cupboard. If you’re not eating immediately leave it to cool in a sealed pan for a few minutes before blitzing in a food processor to your personal preference of smooth before transferring to a sealed container, allowing it to cool before storing.

Serves 8. Or freeze for a meal for 2 that’s ready in 10 minutes


Going the extra Mile 

This soup is perfect straight from the pan, but it’s robust enough to take all sorts of additional extras if you want to make it more exciting: pancetta roasted with the tomatoes and then chopped and saved to garnish, a swirl of extra cream, croutons you name it you can throw it at this soup, so make it your own, and as I’ve said earlier: don’t skimp on the bread – huge chunks of fresh Italian bread or deeply cheesy red hot garlic bread dunked in this will make your world a nicer place guaranteed.

Ingredients: 

  • 2½ lbs roma tomatoes
  • 1¼ lbs cherry tomatoes
  • 8 whole cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3oz potato
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • To taste salt and freshly ground black pepper

Photo Credit: Neil A. Evans © 2019
Photo Location: At Home, Bankside, London, England.