The first soup of the New Year: lovely colourful creamy warming tomato, with just a little (optional) basil – because we like it. The basil gives just a subtle hint of extra flavour but if you want a basic cream of tomato then just leave it out. Lots of people have a soft spot for tinned Cream of Tomato, but this home made version beats tinned, or packet, hands down. The original recipe uses a tin of tomatoes which is a quick inexpensive shortcut (unless you have a glut from the garden) with the soup being ready to eat in around 30minutes. You can’t get home made quicker than that! As everyone, well almost everyone, seems to love Cream of Tomato soup it would be just as good served as part of a special meal (it could be made in advance with the cream added at the last minute) as at a quick family lunch. For a spicy cream of tomato soup just add ground spices to taste: choose from cayenne pepper, ginger, cumin, coriander plus some fresh coriander in place of the fresh basil.
This is another excellent recipe from The Complete Farmhouse Kitchen Cookbook. (Original recipe Cream of Tomato Soup.) However, I have completely reworked the method, simplifying the recipe to avoid having to make a separate thick sauce which is later combined with the sieved/liquidised vegetables. I don’t mind cutting corners if it makes life easier as long as the taste and quality is not compromised!
Cream of Tomato Soup with Basil
1 medium sized carrot, scrubbed & diced
1 onion, peeled & diced
1 stick celery, washed, peeled & diced
25g/1oz plain flour
400g/14oz tin of peeled plum tomatoes
600ml/1pt hot vegetable stock
Salt & black pepper
1tbsp tomato purée
150ml/¼ pint single cream (Elmlea low fat)
1tbsp chopped fresh basil (optional)
Small swirl of cream (reserved from above quantity)
Basil leaf (if using)
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Put the diced carrot, onion and celery into a pan with the butter and gently cook over a low heat for 10minutes until soft, stirring occasionally.
2. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour. Gradually add the juice from the tin of tomatoes, stirring so it combines with the flour and vegetable mixture. When the tomato juice is all added, stir in the vegetable stock, stirring all the time.
3. Add the plum tomatoes, sugar and tomato purée. Return to the heat and bring to the boil stirring all the time until the soup starts to thicken. Check seasoning
4. Tip the contents of the pan into a liquidiser until smooth (or pass through a sieve). Return soup to the pan and over a low heat stir in the chopped basil, if you are including it, almost all of the cream, reserving a little to decorate the bowls if you wish. Reheat very gently but it must not boil.
5. Serve in warmed bowls, decorated with a swirl of cream, a basil leaf and freshly ground black pepper, along with a hunk of crusty bread.