Saturday, April 30, 2011

Soup : A Labour of Love

Never again will I take for granted the comforting feeling of a heart warming homemade soup. The amount of time that goes into making some soup is nothing but a proof of one's love. Want to show someone you love them? Make them some soup - from scratch.

Making things from scratch is my ultimate goal for any meal but for all practical Mondays to Fridays it is quite an impossible feat. So on this Saturday afternoon, I decided to make humble Tomato Soup from scratch.

The process: I roasted nine vine-ripened Roma tomatoes (from Greg, the grocer at Parramatta's farmers markets) drizzled with olive oil and seasoned for about half an hour. I then added twelve cherry tomatoes to the tray and roast for another 10 minutes. I didn't realise the cherry tomatoes were meant to be added straight to the soup but they ended up in the pot along with chopped onions, celery and carrots. More diced tomatoes from a can and tomato paste added to the pot along with the roasted Romas and a litre of real vegetable stock (not from scratch - so maybe this process could have been a heck of a lot longer!) and I cooked it until all the veges (especially the tough guys - the carrots) were soft to mash. Enter the blender to mash up the veges in batches. Careful that the blender top doesn't fly off (I tend to hold it down just to be safe). Then I sieved each batch into another pot. The most painstaking part of the process. The end result was slightly textured but looked like good old bright red tomato soup. I warmed it again and checked the seasoning.

The original recipe asked for quick-roasted Bocconcini to be added into the individual bowls but the markets were all out of Bocconcini unfortunately. All I added was some decorative basil on each bowl.

What goes well with this soup? Try a Garlic Bread (yes, again from scratch). At least the Garlic butter was from scratch. Roast half cut entire bulbs (skin on) of garlic drizzled with olive oil for about 40 minutes. Then remove garlic cloves (which should be mashable) and roughly mash it. Season and add chopped flat-leaf parsley. Add a good quantity of soft butter and mix well. Spread over your favourite bread (I found a good sourdough bread from one of those fancy arty bread stalls). If you are serious about garlic, try a garlic olive sourdough to go with the garlic butter. Toast the garlic bread for about 15 minutes after grating some good quality Parmesan cheese atop.

As the cover recipe of May 2011 Delicious issue, the "plated" (or rather "bowled") soup looked more 'gormet' than the simple soup I ended up serving. It seemed such a long drawn out four step process to get 'some liquid in a bowl' but every sip of it was worth it. And the smiling faces of friends is much better than any airbrushed professional magazine cover.


"Simple joys of meals,grateful am I indeedNever worry how next it comesBut always hope for a delicious feed"

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