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Roast Tomato Soup

What is the long and short of it?

–  The short of It  –

Want an easy dinner? Ripe tomatoes? Dont feel like pasta?  Deep velvety red and wonderfully aromatic soup to the rescue!

2kg of Ripe Tomatoes (I use a mix of cherry and roma)
2 brown onions, roughly chopped
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
Olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt and sugar
Vege stock or vege stock cubes
Fresh basil, to serve

Roughly chop the tomatoes. If you are using cherry tomatoes they dont need to be chopped. Spread out in a large oven tray and generously drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Sprinkle evenly with salt and sugar. This will caramelize and give your soup a wonderful depth of flavor.
Roast at 200C for 20-30 minutes or until skins have split and the house smells wonderful..
Put a good 2-3 tbls of olive oil in a large soup pan over a low heat and put in your onions and garlic while the pan is still cold.  Saute for ten minutes, over a low heat, stirring occasionally. You dont want any color. Pour yourself a glass of wine. Potter about, dance if you like.
Scrape all the roasted tomatoes and juices into the onion mix and cover with water or stock by about 1 cm.
Bring to the boil. Turn down a little. Simmer 20 minutes.
Now for the blending. Take some liquid off first and add back if needed. Its easier to thin it out than try and thicken a watery soup.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with crusty bread and some fresh torn basil. Feel the Joy.
serves 4-6

(for something a little special put a bowl of grated parmesan on the table for sprinkling)

–  The Long of It  –

A ramble about this soup.. And about tomatoes.

I have been making this soup for years now. It is one of my favorites. It is outrageously simple but tastes wonderful.

I am a bit of a tomato snob. When I was a child we would wander barefoot out into our garden and pluck a ripe cherry tomato fresh from the bush, wrap it in a basil leaf and tada! best snack ever.. But the general tomatoes in Australia are terrible. The skin may be red but the inside is pale and watery with little flavor. A very firm tomato, ladies and gentlemen, is not a good tomato. Dont even get me started on those GM  ‘sandwhich tomatos..’

I like to go the Farmers Market in brisbane where you can buy heirloom tomatoes. Their is a man who looks a little like a tomato himself and he has a table filled with lumpy ones, stripey ones, small ones, big ones, green ones, and yes, you dirty minded people, I am still talking about tomatoes.

And they dont just look different! They taste different too! The green zebra tomatoes are the most flavorsome of the green tomatoes…

But this is not always possible. And so this soup helps to bring out the flavor in even your blander, firmer supermarket tomatoes.

But at the moment I am in Italy!  Ye gods, boys and girls! The tomatoes are fantastico! Your average beef tomato is red and ripe and juicy and cheap!  It is rounded and warm and sometimes I want to put them next to my bedside table for decoration or take photos of them and display them on walls.. But I am a little crazy. You’ll get used to it. So with tomatoes this good, at 1.50 a kg, you see why this soup would be a gift to all.

But if you didnt know that tomatoes are more than j
ust vaguely bland and often crisp vegetables that make your sandwhich soggy or cut in wedges in the obligatory salad on the side of your plate – I suggest you make this soup and then go have a look at some homegrown tomatoes from a nearby farmer. It may just change your life…

A tomato should be like a woman; a little soft,  pleasant to smell and better if left to grow in the sun.. They should be all shapes and sizes  and colors and this just improves on their beauty and the overall experience…

A note on soups…

To add a little secret vavoom! to any soup you make, spend 5-10 minutes on your onion and garlic. This is the base of your flavor.

Put the onion and garlic (roughly chopped ) in a pan with the oil or butter on a low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, without allowing any color. This is called sauteing. But take it one step further. Keep cooking on a low heat till it gets super fragrant but still do not let it color. It will become soft and translucent and palely caramelized and a little sticky. Dont be shy with the oil..

Color  in onion and garlic is wonderful but the flavor changes and is not what we are looking for here. A deep richness and sweetness will come from cooking your onion and garlic this way which will impart its sauve beauty to your soup.

So give it a try on the next soup you make. You’ll see the difference.


Of Pudding and Quinoa

I am slipping…
Five days after I finished my cleanse, with the intention to maintain mostly healthiness, my mind is reverting back to its old tricks. And unfortunately, my mind knows me really well.
But lets rewind.
After about a week of no sugar the energy took hold. It was wonderful. The sunday after my last post I worked a twelve hour day, with only a small break and when I got home I was so full of beans I helped my housemate clean the house till 3 in the morning. And it wasnt that hyped, edge-of-your-brain awakeness that comes from coffee or lack of sleep, but rather a clean full-bodied awakeness. It was wonderful.
It was my little (not-so little anymore!) brothers seventeenth birthday that week and so I organized to head up to Crystal Waters, the home of my youth, to have dinner with the family.
My brother is an awesome boy. Forget your normal lazy, fairly uninspired, drinking seventeen year old. He has been doing homeschooling for some time now and does it with zest. He takes lessons in everything that inspires him. And he and my good friend Ned walk everywhere.
In fact me and Tombs*, as i affectionatlely call him, discussed next year walking the Camino de Santiago de Compastelo. For those of you who know not, this is a pilgrims walk in the north of Spain, spanning some 780 miles and taking about 30 days. THIRTY DAYS OF WALKING. YE GODS. However it is not an insane hike through the amazon jungle, it is a walk along a road walked by thousands of people for hundreds of years. It passes through towns and cities with albuergues (hotels) for travellers on the walk. They say that once you do the first five days the rest is easy.
So I am keen. I will have to spend the next half a year getting madly fit. Which means walking everywhere in Italy.  SOUNDS LIKE A PLAN.
We enjoyed a large feast and talks round the campfire (hot damn, how much I miss campfires!) and then me and Tombs went for a seven km walk at ten in the evening. Cause, y’know, the healths were filling me with energy.
Some of what we ate that night: Vegetable curry (redolent with spices)
Two large free range whole roast chickens (tender and melt in the mouth with a crispy golden skin and fragrant with lemons)
Baked vegetables
Quinoa, mint and orange salad (amazing! recipe on its way)
Spiced nut rice (dang! I have to make this stuff!)
And locally picked salad followed by a baileys cheesecake.
Which I did not eat, with a massive feat of willpower, due to two things; it contained sugar and I was off that, also I purchased THIS TOTALLY AMAZING STUFF. It is called Cocoapure and if you havent tried it/heard of it, you should really try and hunt some down.
It is made of raw cocoa, raw coconut oil, raw vanilla and sea salt and it is all organic, BUT IT TASTES LIKE GLORY IN A JAR.
No joke. It is as good as nutella and I am not just saying that. It is a soft, spreadable dark and sensual thing and I ate it with some gourmet dried strawberries.. Mmmm…Honestly, who needs sugar anyway?
Fast forward.. I did good on my three week cleanse and only broke it once to taste the Saffron Mouse Cheesecake that I made for my housemates twenty first birthday.. But more on that later. Recipes will be forthcoming.
Two days back onto normal eating and I was rocking the health. And then.. I lost it completely. My friend Katrina came over for late night cooking and we made Quinoa Fridgezotto filled with butter, camembert, white wine,s mustard and chicken.. Also chocolate self-saucing pudding with ice cream with that ate we gorged on until food comas were had by all… Dang, boys and girls, but chocolate self saucing puddings are a thing of wonder.  Magic (aka science) makes fantastic things happen in your oven that result in foodgasms for everyone..
The next day I made Caramelized Onion Baguettes from scratch in my housemates Kitchenaid. Thats rights, my housemate has a Kitchenaid – be jelous.  And wow, it was easy.
We then headed on over to our friends for dinner bringing fresh bread, leftover chocolate pudding (thats right, we made two) and some polenta. Sam made us marinated grilled Kangaroo and oven-baked sweet potato chips which we devoured with great gusto alongside the warm bread slathered in butter.. Its a hard life, let me tell you.
And then more chocolate science pudding. This time with cream. Oh no. So now I am slipping. Iced coffee at work yesterday, singapore chilli stirfry for lunch (oil and sugar for everyone!) and then I came home and made a midnight goats camembert omelette followed by a handful of chocolate coated ginger. And believe me i would of had it with a glass of milk if there was any milk left in the house.
So. Herbal tea this morning. Life is a high road. I can walk it. It doesnt have to be extremes. The Vale of health on one side. The Valley of Indulgence on the other. No need to choose one or the other..Just let me get my balance.
Recipes soon… Miss Nom