Saturday, 21 August 2010

This is about tomato soup - vegans and vegetarians bear with me

Although I think of soup as a winter thing, I do think that on a rainy August day you can fancy a drop of soup and I can’t be doing with tinned soup. The only time I use tinned soup is in a beef stew. I use a tin of beef consommé as a stock. But in the words of Kirsty Wark “more on that story later” I don’t really like the cubes. They are ok if you are short of time, but I find them very salty. I never do roast beef so I never have any bones for stock, hence the consommé. I do my own chicken stock when I have roasted a chicken and have the bones left. If I can’t deal with it there and then I freeze it for later. An even better thing is one that I have hacked into bits for a variety of uses, very therapeutic when you have murder on your mind. Not that I am about to do life for anybody you understand. But doing my Sweeny Todd on a chicken is the next best thing. It’s cheaper than buying all the bits and less disruptive to your lifestyle and freedom. This is a way of buying top quality meat for the same price as you would buy the cheap stuff. If you are going to do something creative with chicken breasts one day; a bit of a stewy, fricassee, curry type of a thingy the next day with the thighs and legs and you want some stock; buy a whole chicken. Anyway this is about some soup. The vegetarians and vegans will have moved on by now with all this talk of chickens however cared for.

So, I found myself with some time on my hands today and in need of something to do. Soup, I thought.  Although soup takes no time to prepare, it is not something that can be made in a hurry. I had all of the ingredients so I decided to make tomato and pepper soup. I suppose the whole process took about an hour and half, but in terms of my time, about ten minutes. Soup is the sort of thing to make when you want to sit about and do nothing, and not feel guilty because you are actually doing something.

I got together the following and attempted to work some magic.

1 tbsp Olive Oil
2 medium onions sliced
1 Clove of Garlic
2 tsp Chopped Fresh Thyme Leaves
1 pepper roasted and sliced (or do as I did and use a handful of frozen slices)
1 tin of tomatoes
1 tbsp Tomato Puree
1 pint of vegetable stock
1 tbsp Mushroom Ketchup
2 tbsp Chopped Fresh Marjoram Leaves

I fried the onions, garlic and thyme very slowly in the olive oil. This cannot be hurried. It took me about 45 minutes. The onions need to be translucent, soft when you bite into them and above all sweet. When I had got them to where I wanted them I added the frozen peppers. I warmed the mixture on a very low light for another 5 minutes. Then I added the tinned tomatoes. I buy the whole tomatoes, rather than the ready chopped ones. I think the quality is better. I find the tins of chopped tomatoes contain too much of the bits that I don’t want. I shred the whole tomatoes between my thumb and fingers and discard the stalk end and the centre. I know it might be a bit wasteful, but I think that you get better results. It is also very messy, so don’t wear your best white t-shirt. The tomatoes were followed by the tomato puree. I gave it a quick mix and then added the stock and the mushroom ketchup.

I simmered the soup for about 20 minutes. I have an idea that soup shouldn’t be boiled. I don’t know where I got that from. Then I added the marjoram and simmered it for another 10 minutes. I let it cool for about 10 minutes, added seasoning and whizzed it with a hand blender. You can put it into a liquidizer if you want to.

As I said the whole process took about an hour and a half, but most of that time it was looking after itself. It needs that time for all the flavours to come out of the vegetables and to blend with one another. Making soup is easy, just give it time. Plus it gave me a guilt free hour and a half sitting doing not very much, just waiting for my lunch and very nice it was too.

I think this is suitable for both vegans and vegetarians. That is, unless I have made a mistake with the mushroom ketchup and it contains meat products.

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