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The end of a garden

February 21, 2011

It’s a good thing I wasn’t trying to feed my family off the land this summer.

We’d all starve to death.  Except my Alex….she’d just eat corn flakes.

My garden was not a success.  Too little space, too much rain and nasty little possums turned it into a mad growth of leaves, vines and dark spots for spiders to hang out.

Except for the basil.  Holy freakin Basil!

I’ve made enough pesto to get us through the long hard Sydney winter :) and the stuff just keeps giving and giving.

Running out of ideas and watching a new growth start to flower, I got desperate and threw a pile of it into a blender with over ripened tomatoes and froze it.

Now today with the last of my tomatoes finally red I’ve decided to make tomato soup combining fresh and frozen ingredients.  I’ve adapted the following recipe from The Barefoot Contessa (my favorite chef).  Mine probably tastes quiet a bit different but hers is no doubt delicious so if you don’t have frozen tomatoes and basil blended and ready to go then try her soup but no need to include all the oil she adds, a few more spices and you won’t miss it a bit.

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

5 or 6 cups of quartered fresh tomatoes roasted

Pam spray

salt n pepper

2 tbsp butter

2 onions roughly chopped

5 cloves of garlic

2 small cans of tomatoes (or 1 large)

1 tsp thyme

2 1/2 cups frozen basil and tomatoes (freeze 1 big bunch of basil and 3 cups tomatoes pureed in a blender)

or you can add a full 1/2 cup of basil and a big can of tomatoes

Roast your tomatoes by placing them on a parchment lined baking sheet and spraying with Pam (no need for 1/4 cup of oil).  Sprinkle with lots of salt and pepper and roast at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime melt 2 tbsp of butter in a large stock pot (don’t be afraid…butter is beautiful and really adds a depth to the soup).    Add onions and sauté gently for about 7 minutes, add whole garlic and sauté for another 5 minutes

To the pot add roasted tomatoes and it’s juices.

Add canned tomatoes, thyme and basil along with a bit more salt and pepper.  Now you can add your frozen lump of basil and tomatoes or pesto.  Gently simmer for at least a half hour.   Notice  how I do not add any stock……I could tell it had enough liquid.

Once your soup has simmered for a while and you can tell the liquid has reduced a bit, purée it slightly using a food processor or hand-held blender.

A little advice: if you enjoy making soups or even sauces then a good hand help blender is very much worth the small investment.   I have a powerful kitchenaid one and love love love it!   It was about $150 three years ago and I use it all the time but I know there are very good ones out there for less $.

Serve your soup with a dollop of plain yogurt and some yummy Socca bread.   Socca is a flat bread or a sort of thin, unleavened pancake or crêpe of chickpea flour found on the coast of the Ligurian Sea from Niceto Pisa.  It’s super easy to make and full of protein, perfect to make with a vegetarian meal that may not contain enough protein or for anyone avoiding gluten.

I made some African Lentil dip as well because although this soup and the Socca is probably enough for me, the man definitely needs more food after a day of biking to work, going to the gym and swimming laps with Josee.   Start off with some Socca strips with lentil dip and finish with a nice big hot bowl of roasted tomato soup.

This is a serving for two.

Probably the best tomato soup yet!

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