A chance discussion recently over lunch after a speaking engagement at L’Auberge du Paysan in Raithby got me to thinking about how recipes evolve over time.
Probus Winelands Ladies’ Club president, Felicite Bamford, asked why I had not published a recipe for tomato soup, one of her favourite winter dishes.
I demurred, noting that I had published such a recipe, albeit some years ago. The conversation turned to the minutiae of ingredients and method, with Felicite noting her preference for something hearty and with a bit of a kick.
Try as I might, I could not recall the precise detail of that recipe, save that it used tinned Italian tomatoes as a base, and included a can of tomato paste to enrich the soup and give it more colour.
As I took my leave of the delightful ladies who had so graciously hosted me, Felicite’s parting request was: “Please consider republishing your tomato soup recipe in Bolander.”
Arriving home, I dug through my recipe archives, and found the original, which I’d published in the September 2009 edition of Bolander.
A bit more digging revealed that I’d published a modified version of the recipe in July 2018, using roasted baby tomatoes, and adding smoked chipotle seasoning for that extra bit of zing.
The baby tomatoes added a measure of tedium – you must blitz them and then pass the liquid through a sieve to get rid of the skin – so standard size fresh, whole, tomatoes skinned and roasted, are so much easier to work with.
We often use smoked paprika, and for the more adventurous, a deseeded finely chopped fresh Thai or similar chilli, for added heat.
We often make this lovely soup, most recently, a week or so before this speaking engagement, and I am intrigued how it has evolved over the years.
This one is for you, Felicite.
Ingredients, selection and preparation
1 large red onion or the equivalent number of shallots (about 5): finely chopped.
Olive oil: to fry the onion.
2tsp coriander seeds, ground
1tsp cumin seeds, ground
1tsp black peppercorns, ground
1.5kg fresh, very ripe tomatoes: blanched, peeled and halved
1 x 70g can tomato paste: to add body and colour, and to intensify the tomato flavour.
1 fresh red chilli: deseeded and finely chopped (omit if heat is not your thing).
2tsp smoked paprika.
2 cloves garlic: fresh, finely sliced.
250ml fresh cream: this plays a vital role in giving texture and body to the soup, and in “smoothing” out the spiciness. It can be substituted with plain fat free yoghurt.
Put the halved tomatoes and garlic in a roasting dish, splash generously with good olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 180ºC for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 2tbsp olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the chopped red onion (or shallots) and sugar, and fry gently until soft and translucent.
Add the ground coriander, cumin and peppercorns and fry gently until the aromas start to emerge, about 3-5 minutes.
Add the roasted garlic and tomatoes, tomato paste, chopped chilli, salt and smoked paprika, bring to the boil, and simmer covered for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Blitz the soup thoroughly with a stick blender. Check the seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper.
Divide into soup bowls, and stir in the fresh cream to taste, anywhere between 50 to 75ml per bowl.
Garnish with some chopped chives or some fresh parsley, and serve with your choice of breads or toast.