I find it astonishing that I could have produced offspring who are such fussy eaters. I eat everything and love trying new things. I’m also quite a good home cook and regularly try out new dishes which I hope that they will like but, more often than not, such culinary creativity is met with disdain and a barrage of complaints along the lines of “why can’t you cook NORMAL food?” The list of vegetables they don’t like is lengthy which I find hard to comprehend as I can’t think of any that I detest. I seriously wonder whether there was some mix-up in the hospital and that they were switched at birth? These things do happen.
The one thing that my gang loves is homemade vegetable soup which is great as it is a way of getting them to increase their veg intake. I find that I can include a whole range of vegetables that they would normally never touch in the soups that I make for them.
The key thing when making a homemade soup is to use a good stock as the foundation of your stock. This can be a vegetable or chicken stock. In an ideal world homemade stock is preferable but to be honest there are a lot of good commercial versions readily available. I tend to roast a couple of chickens at the weekend and use the leftover carcasses to make a flavoursome stock but I have also been known to use proprietary brand ‘stock pots’.
Although I tend to make Cream of Vegetable Soup most often, I also like to make this Roasted Tomato Soup which goes down a treat with my gang. Roasting the tomatoes brings out their natural sweetness which makes this soup irresistible. Simple garnished with a swirl of olive oil or a few fresh basil leaves.
Ten or fifteen minutes before the tomatoes are due to come out of the oven I like to mix up a quick batch of Cheese Scones which I pop in to bake after I remove the tomatoes. They really are the perfect accompaniment to the soup and are also incredibly easy to make.
Ingredients:To roast the tomatoes:
1.5kg ripe tomatoes
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
3tblsp olive oil
A large pinch of sugar
For the soup:
3tblsp olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
1 fresh red chilli, sliced
2 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
400ml chicken stock (or vegetable)
100ml double cream
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to season
Method:To roast the tomatoes:
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan Oven 160C/Gas Mark 4.
2. Toss the tomatoes and garlic in the olive oil and tumble into a large roasting dish. Sprinkle over the sugar, season with seal salt and freshly ground black pepper and roast in the oven for one hour, giving them a shake half way through the cooking time.
To make the soup:
3. Place a large saucepan over a moderate heat and add the olive oil. Once it has heated up add the onions, chilli, celery and carrots and fry gently, stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes until softened but not coloured.
4. Add the roasted tomatoes and garlic, followed by the stock and add 250ml water. Bring up to the boil and then cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Use a blender to purée the contents of the saucepan and then strain the soup into a clean saucepan. Place over a moderate heat and warm the soup up.
5. Add the cream and stir through. Once the soup Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve.