Nothing beats fresh organic ingredients, straight from the farm, still warm from the sun. My friend John House recently surprised us all by buying a neat piece of land outside Stellenbosch, and starting his own organic vegetable farm. It’s been a year since John started to work the soil at Genesis Farm, and now his crops are standing tall with huge basil plants, different kinds of tomatoes, beautiful peppers and chilli’s, and all kinds of other organic produce.
You can immediately taste the difference in a freshly picked organic tomato, straight from the vine: it still tastes of the sun and the earth – sweet, intense tomato flavours unlike any store-bought fruit. So, with my basket filled to the brim with the reddest plump tomatoes, I knew I had to make a proper, chunky roasted tomato soup. I had eaten some really tasty tomato soup at Nook Eatery a few times, and knew they had the recipe posted on their blog. I took a few notes and adapted the recipe for what I had on hand. The soup is intense with real beefy tomato flavours, packed with umami. I used the tomatoes whole – no skins or seeds were discarded (but if you are a picky eater, feel free to push the cooked soup through a sieve).
- 3 T (45 ml) olive oil
- 200 g leeks, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, finely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, minced/crushed
- 4 sprigs thyme
- about 16 ripe organic tomatoes (medium to large), chopped into chunks
- 2 cans of whole Italian tomatoes, chopped into chunks
- 2 T (30 ml) sugar
- 1 T (15 ml) salt
- 2 t (10 ml) freshly ground black pepper
- 3 T (45 ml) red wine vinegar
- 2 T (30 ml) tomato paste
- to serve: handful of fresh basil leaves, more olive oil and fresh cream
- Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- In a large heavy based pot on the stove top, heat olive oil, then fry chopped leeks, onion, carrot, garlic and thyme until soft and slightly brown (I didn’t chop it by hand, but used a food processor – saved a lot of time).
- Add the tomatoes (fresh and canned), as well as the sugar, salt, pepper, vinegar and tomato paste. Stir to mix thoroughly. Transfer to a large deep roasting tray, then put in the oven to roast for 1 hour (stir after 30 minutes).
- Remove from oven, discard thyme sprigs, then process untill the right texture is achieved (I found that it stays quite chunky after processing, which is perfect).
- Serve with cream (I love lots of cream in my soup) and a dollop of basil paste.
How to make basil paste:
In a large pot, bring some water to a simmer. Have a large bowl filled with iced water ready next to it. Blanche the basil leaves for 3 seconds (not more, not less) in the boiling water, then remove at once with a slotted spoon and immerse immediately in iced water. Remove from iced water, lightly squeeze out excess water, then pat dry with a tea towel. Transfer to a food processor or pestle & mortar, along with enough olive oil to form a paste and a pinch of course salt flakes. Process/pound to a paste. Store in an air tight container in the fridge and use within 3 days.
(Contact John House from Genesis Farm on 082-215 6968. Their website will be live by next week.)