“Soup is a lot like family. Each ingredient enhances the others; each batch has its own characteristics; and it needs time to simmer to reach full flavour” (Marge Kennedy).
Past couple of weeks here in UK have been extremely cold with some mild snow in London. Just when I thought winter is bidding adieu, it decides to come back and stay a little longer. We have really been bundled up in and outside of our homes and hunkering down some warm hearty soups all the while. The thing that I don’t like about winter at this time of the year, is that, November, December and January are pretty bearable with some warming sunshine on freezing mornings, but, come February and the sun decides to go on vacation and leave the rainy dreary days in charge. It rains almost every other day with little or no sunshine and all I feel like doing is getting cosy on a sofa with a big hot bowl of soup. All winter long, I have kept myself accustomed to making soups almost twice a week and I loved adding crispy Naan or cheese puffs or even seeded crackers and cheddar as accompaniments, making soups really hearty and extremely fulfilling as Morgan Freeman says it right, “hot soup is the best because the process of digesting food helps to warm you up”. I will be honest, I go for comfort food this season as it tends to make me lazy, most of the time, which I am sure a lot of you will relate to and with meals in winters “it is impossible to think of any good meal, no matter how plain or elegant, without soup or bread in it” (M.K.Fisher).
So, the soup; this is one of Britain’s most favourite soups and is understandable why; it is really quick packed with flavour and tang and is perfect for days when you want a quick dinner that is satiating without you spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Come days like nowadays, when spring is on the verge of sprouting through, the weather tends to get dreary all the while and most days we see wet and rainy skies; hence, for days such as these this basil infused, roasted red peppers, tomatoes and red onion puree soup, is an absolute sunshine.
The colours are like bloody Marry and so gorgeous to look at. The soup is born of a smooth silky luscious texture by the process of pouring the soup through a sieve and discarding pulp. Usually, I have seen people having this soup in a chunky texture i.e. a coarsely Grinded soup, which is ofcourse just as fine, but, if you are anything like me who has an OCD against creases and lumps and pulp, you will go through that extra trouble of straining the soup before pouring it back in the cooking pot. Another thing that makes this soup so wholesome, is the roasted ingredients that make up the soup i.e. tomatoes, red onion, garlic and sweet red peppers. Now! if you really want to notch it up, rather than baking it, grill them on a grill pan until they are nicely wrinkled and charred, it adds a smoky flavour to the soup. I however, baked it. So, needless to say, either of the two options are absolutely fine.
Okay, one note to mention, the red peppers used in the soup are not the birds-eye chillies or the spicy chillies or the red bell pepper. These red peppers are sweet peppers that are elongated with a pointy tail and are the size of your palm. These are sweeter in flavour and do not carry much heat and look like this;
For servings, this can be served with any seeded bread or baguette or even cheese on toast. The first time I made the soup, I made toasted cheese sandwiches in the sandwich maker, they were a perfect accompaniment to the soup, and ofcourse, again, serve this with any bread of liking but grilled cheese is this soups best friend and I know that because I listened to Ina Garten in her cooking show once say “grilled cheese and tomato soup is the ultimate comfort meal”, which my first attempt to it, I have stuck to it ever since and it never fails to impress.
Hope you enjoy this hearty bowl of soup prepared from roasting the tomatoes and red peppers and blended with simple spices, to pack flavor and the sweet and sour flavor of the soup perfectly amalgamated to create a silky, luscious spiced soup with a tang of basil. This is extremely scrumptious for a meal, just as much as I did and ofcourse mind your manners as well as Bennett Cerf defined good manners to be “the noise you don’t make when you’re sipping soup” which is quite hard with this one. You’ll see!
1. Cherry Tomatoes — 900g
2. Red peppers — 4
3. Garlic cloves — 6
4. Onion cut into quarters — 4
5. Fresh Basil chopped — 4 tbsp
6. Salt — 1 tsp
7. White pepper — ½ tsp
8. Black pepper — ½ tsp
9. Clove powder — 1/8 tsp
9. Honey — 2 tbsp
10. Butter — 4 tbsp
11. Flour — 4 tbsp
12. Tomato paste — 2 tbsp
13. Parmesan cheese — 8 tbsp
14. Seeded bread/baguette — 8 slice
a. Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
b. In a baking dish, place the tomatoes, garlic cloves, red peppers and onions.
c. Drizzle a little oil all over to help them roast.
d. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until the veggies are wrinkly on the skin and roasted well from places.
e. Take out of the oven and let cool for a few minutes.
f. Remove the skins of the tomatoes and red peppers and blend all the veggies together.
g. In a cooking pot, melt the butter and add the flour.
h. Stir together to mix and fry for a minute.
i. Add the tomato paste and fry for another minute.
j. Add the blended tomato soup puree and add the spices.
k. Add salt, peppers, honey and clove powder and let cook for 4-5 minutes in order for it to thicken.
l. If you want to have an extremely smooth silky soup, strain the soup into another pot. This will get rid of any lumps or skins left in the soup and become silkier in texture.
m. Add the basil and stir.
n. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top of the soup when serving.
o. Butter the baguette or seeded bread slices and toast it in the toaster or on a fry pan to serve along with the soup.
~ Happy Foodieating ~