Tomatoes are one of the main reasons to grow your own fruit and vegetables. There really is very little that can compare with the smell and taste of a ripe, home-grown tomato, freshly picked from the vine. This summer, we managed to grow a pretty good selection of green tomatoes, but the lack of sun and warmth put paid to any further progression. We made chutney, and I experimented with a lovely recipe in Moro East for Fried Green Tomatoes – well, I thought it was lovely. And then, utterly dispirited with all the green-ness, we tried a trick that my mum had suggested and shoved a whole load of the unripened fruit into a drawer in the spare room and left them. They ripened. And then I panicked because we are off up to my mum’s for half term, and I didn’t want them to go to waste, so I made soup.
This is going to be pretty useless for anyone looking for a tried and tested recipe, because, true to my soup roots, I just do this by eye and taste and if you’re comfortable with that, it’s a great way to use tomatoes.
I filled a roasting tin with the halved/quartered (depending on size) tomatoes, chucked in 4 good sized cloves of garlic still in their skins, added the leaves from a good bunch of thyme, drizzled over some olive oil, added some freshly ground salt and pepper and roasted it all in a fairly hot oven for 30 minutes or so.
Once the tomatoes are softened and a little charred, remove from the oven and set aside. There will probably be quite a lot of liquid knocking around in the dish. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins and discard the skins.
Sweat off an onion in some olive oil, tip in the contents of the roasting tin (including the skinned garlic) and stock. Depending on how many tomatoes you have, probably start with 500ml. With a view to actually getting to the bottom of my freezer, I retrieved a tub of frozen turkey stock lurking in the depths (yes, I know, from last Christmas) and used that. Simmer everything up for 10-15 minutes, then whoosh with your favourite whoosher. Taste and add more seasoning.
Sometimes, I find that soup can taste a bit thin, so I have a number of tricks that I use to beef them up. Worcestershire sauce is a good addition to this one, as is BBQ sauce (a tip from Gordon Ramsay, would you believe it!). If you think the texture needs thickening up, a handful of red lentils is always a good standby to chuck in an cook up, then re-whizz. You can also add some sour cream to serve.