On Sunday morning I woke up to the sun streaming in my bedroom window. I opened the curtains and lay in bed with no blanket, closed my eyes and imagined I was big juicy tomato ripening in the natural heat of the sun. I thought of what it must be like to be on the vine in the greenhouse, growing up the window panes, hanging in clusters, starting off green and then swelling with juice and turning red.
The smell of the tomato vine filled my imagination and the plumper and redder a tomato I became! Sounds bonkers but I often imagine jumping in the stew pot if I was a young carrot and the stew bubbled with delicious rich glossy gravy, smelling of garlic, bacon and red wine. Or sweating with the cumin seeds in ground nut oil, if I was a sweet young shallot, turning translucent and snuggling up to the garlic cloves! “Am I mad?” I asked my team and they all said yes!
Tomatoes are in season right now and there are many varieties, shapes and sizes available these days, relatively easy to grow and most have a good heavy yield of fruit making them well worth the effort.
There is nothing like the flavour of a freshly picked tomato plus they are packed with antioxidants, rich in Vitamins A and C and lycopene, all of which help to stimulate the body’s immune system.
So let us celebrate the home grown tomato.
Chilled Roasted Tomato Soup
- 2lb plump ripe vine tomatoes
- 2 sweet shallots
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- Slug of olive oil
- Good quality sea salt
- Pinch of soft brown sugar
Pre-heat the oven to180C.
Roughly chop the tomatoes and sling them onto a baking tray along with the peeled and sliced shallots and garlic. Splash with olive oil, season with salt, the bay and soft brown sugar and toss the flavours around together. Place in the oven for about 20mins.
The tomatoes will have browned a little on the edges and released juice. Remove the bay leaf, pour the tomatoes and other goodies into a bowl and whizz with a stick blender.
Season and leave to chill in the fridge. The flavours will mingle and improve over time. Have you ever noticed how a soup taste much better half an hour after being whizzed up or the flavours of a salad enhanced 10 minutes after dressing?
Either leave the soup as it is, which is a little rustic with the seeds and skins, or make it more refined by passing it through a sieve.
When you are ready to eat pour the chilled soup into small chilled glasses and top with a sprig of fresh marjoram.
Serve with warm garlic foccaccia.