This recipe is perfect for this time of year as we head into Autumn. It combines the taste of the last gloriously plump and juicy sun kissed tomatoes of Summer with some warming herbs and spices to add a bit of extra warmth as the days begin to cool. This soup freezes well and is handy to have on standby. It is the perfect comfort food for those evenings where it seems to grow dark too soon or for warming up on cool, rainy Autumn days.
1kg fresh tomatoes
1 medium red onion
4 cloves garlic
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp basil
½ tsp oregano
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp sage
2 bay leaves
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp sea salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
200ml vegetable stock or water
4 tbsp (60ml) plant based “milk” or “cream”
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp tomato puree
Firstly, pre-heat the oven to 200˚C (Gas mark 6). Prepare the tomatoes by halving them and laying them in a single layer in a large, heavy based roasting tray. Roughly slice the onion and garlic cloves and add these to the tomatoes. Drizzle over the olive oil.
Mix all the herbs and spices except the nutmeg together and then sprinkle over the tomatoes, onion and garlic. Using your hands or a spoon, mix up everything in the tray until well coated with the olive oil and the herb and spice mix. Make sure everything is spread out in one even layer and the tomatoes have their cut sides facing up before putting in the oven to roast for 45 minutes or until the vegetables are softened and just starting to brown. You want them to be soft and succulent so this may take longer depending on the ripeness of your tomatoes.
Once you have reached this point, take the tray out of the oven and leave to cool for a couple of minutes. As soon as it is safe to do so, remove the bay leaves and carefully spoon the tomatoes and onions along with all the garlic and juices in the tray either to a pan or blender jug depending on whether you are using a stick blender or jug blender to process the soup. Add enough stock so that the liquid comes halfway up the side of the vegetables. You may not need much at all at this stage if your tomatoes are particularly juicy. Blend until the soup has the texture you want and then transfer to a pan if not already in one. Warm the soup up over a low heat. Stir in the tomato puree, balsamic vinegar and nutmeg. The soup should be fairly thick. Stir in the plant based “milk” or “cream”. The soup can then be thinned to the desired consistency by either adding some more stock or plant based “milk” depending on your taste. Check the seasoning and add further salt and pepper to taste if necessary.
I like to serve this with a little extra virgin olive oil drizzled on and scattered with a few toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds to add a little crunch. Alternatively, you could finish the soup by drizzling on a little extra plant based “cream” or pesto and adding garlic croutons.
A roughly chopped red pepper can be mixed in and roasted along with the tomatoes and onions to make a delicious roasted red pepper and tomato soup.
Try using fresh herbs as well as or instead of the dried herbs.
You don’t have to stick to using the herbs and spices above. Play with the flavours using the herbs and spices of your choice. Be adventurous and make the recipe your own.
Recipe by Rachel Bescoby