National Vegetarian Week 2013 – Tomato Soup

Happy National Vegetarian Week! This year I’m setting myself the challenge of cooking seven new recipes, with a particular focus on vegan dishes. Each day I will post a photo, a summary of the recipe and my verdict on whether the meal will make its way into my repertoire.

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Surprisingly difficult to photograph well

I am not quite sure why I had never made tomato soup before. I’ve made various vegetable soups and I often buy the tinned tomato soup, but somehow it never occurred to me to make my own. However, I always have chopped tomatoes on hand, and I had some left-over cream as well as a mostly-unused packet of frozen basil. Time to experiment.

I ddin’t use a recipe for this, I just drew inspiration from various sources. First I chopped and gently fried an onion until it was soft. I’ve seen that instruction a hundred times: fry until soft, but I have never actually managed to be patient enough to achieve it. This time, because I was busy doing a dozen other things ready for the dinner party, I actually forgot to keep poking and prodding at my frying onion, and it caramelised beautifully. It’s not “real” caramelised onion, but it’s the closest I’ve ever come.

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Soft, golden onions

Then I put the onion, two cartons of chopped tomatoes and a bit of water (just enough to rinse out each carton to avoid wasting the tomato) into a pan and simmered it for ages. Again I was distracted by other things, and simply stirred it ever so often to stop anything sticking. Once it had reduced down to a thick puree I added about 100ml of single cream (to make this vegan, you could omit the cream entirely or simply use a dairy-free alternative) and a handful of basil. Then I blended everything for a while and divided it up into tubs for the freezer.

The puree was too thick to be considered soup, but this was part of the plan. When I wanted to eat a portion, I added more water (enough to almost fill the plastic tub, which I realise is an unhelpful measurement for anyone else – just add as much as is needed to get the consistency you want) while reheating. I like my soup thin and liquid, but I think it would have made quite a nice thicker soup as well. The flavour is strong, stronger than Heinz I think and not dissimilar to Sainsbury’s soup in a cup sachets, but without the acidic tang that puts me off that product. I’ll definitely make it again, and I’ve got three more portions in the freezer for future quick and easy lunches.

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