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Roasted Tomato Soup with Puree of Basil and Olive Croutons

At first you're going to think 'Why roast tomatoes, just for soup?' but I promise you that once you've tasted the difference you'll know it's worth it - especially in the spring when it's hard to get really ripe, full-flavoured tomatoes. And roasting really isn't any trouble, it just means time in the oven.

 
 
 Roasted Tomato Soup with Puree of Basil and Olive Croutons

  Serves 6

Ingredients
 3 lb (1.35 kg) ripe, red, firm tomatoes
 about 1 oz (25 g) fresh basil
 3 fat cloves garlic, unpeeled
 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for dipping
 1 large potato, about 6 oz (175 g)
 2 rounded teaspoons tomato purée
 1 dessertspoon balsamic vinegar
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the croutons:
 3 oz (75 g) ciabatta, crusts removed, cut into small dice
 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
 1 level tablespoon black olive paste
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5, 375°F (190°C).
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Equipment
You will also need a good solid, shallow roasting tray about 14 x 11 x ¾ inches deep (35 x 28 x 2 cm deep).

This recipe is taken from The Delia Collection: Soup. Delia's Vegetarian Collection and also appeared in Sainsbury’s Magazine (Sept 1993).

Method

First of all, skin the tomatoes by pouring boiling water on them, leave for 1 minute exactly before slipping the skins off.

Now, slice each tomato in half and arrange the halves on the baking tray, cut side uppermost. Place the garlic cloves on the tray as well, leaving their skins on. T

hen season everything with salt and pepper and sprinkle a few droplets of olive oil on each tomato half and some on the garlic – about 2 tablespoons in all.

Then finally top each one with a piece of basil leaf (dipping the leaf in oil first to give it a good coating).

Now pop the whole lot into the oven and roast for 1 hour or until the edges of the tomatoes are slightly blackened. While the tomatoes are roasting, prepare the croutons by placing the bread cubes in a bowl, with the oil and the olive paste, then toss them around to get a good coating of both.

About 20 minutes before the end of the roasting time, peel and chop the potato, place it in a saucepan with some salt and 1 pint (570 ml) of boiling water. Add the tomato purée then simmer for about 20 minutes.

When the tomatoes are ready, remove them from the oven, but leave it switched on.

Arrange the croutons on a small baking tray and put them in the oven to bake for about 8 minutes using a timer.

Now scrape the tomatoes and all their juices into a food processor, rescue the garlic cloves from the tray, and then simply squeeze the pulp to join the tomatoes and discard the skins.

Then add the contents of the potato saucepan and whiz everything to a thick purée, not too smooth. If you want to, you can sieve the pips out, but I prefer to leave them in because I prefer that texture. The soup is now ready for reheating – very gently.

Just before serving the soup make the basil purée.

Strip the leaves into a mortar, sprinkle them with half a teaspoon of salt, then bash the leaves down with the pestle. It takes a minute or two for the leaves to become a purée.

Now add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the balsamic vinegar and stir well.

To serve the soup, pour it into warm serving bowls and drizzle the basil purée on the surface, then finally sprinkle on the croutons and serve with some ciabatta bread warmed through in the oven.

 

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