It’s been terribly dark and dreary over here lately. Now, I know I’ve said that I love autumn, but I also adore winter and would very much like to see at least some cold and snow before March, thank you very much! Right now there’s a strange divide in the weather in the Netherlands: the north provinces are all covered in ice and snow, so badly that they have had a consistent weather alarm since Monday and people have been ice skating in the streets, while down here in the west it’s 6°C. It’s unfair, really. Forget ice and snow; down here, it’s raining. And grey. And dreadful. One of the reason my blog has been quiet for so long is that weather, in fact! It gets dark early, and during the day there’s barely any light, so I don’t see the point in setting up my camera for what will inevitably be a disappointing picture. I post the least disappointing ones I can make with my phone on my Instagram, though. (So you’ll have to forgive me for using one of those, instead of my usual not-so-crappy quality ones.)
In order to give myself a tiny bit of wintery satisfaction, I made roasted tomato soup this week. Nothing quite says ‘winter comfort food’ to me like soup does. All it needs is a crusty piece of bread to become a filling meal that warms you to the bone. And all it takes is a bit of time to really get that dark roasted flavour in your onions and garlic and tomatoes. I made parmesan crackers to go with it but it didn’t even need those, to be honest: just a spoon! And some basil to top it off. The recipe I used is an older one that I’ve made a fair few times, and I’ve changed it slightly by leaving out the cream and adding a dash of chilli flakes to spice it up a notch. Gives it a nice kick!
Roasted tomato soup (based on a recipe from A Wooden Nest)
1-1.5 kg tomatoes, crowns removed and chopped in half horizontally
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
6 cloves of garlic, rough ends removed
0.5 – 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes (to taste)
2 cups /500 ml chicken stock
To roast your vegetables, preheat the oven to 225 °C. Place your tomatoes cut-side up on a cookie sheet or in a sizeable baking dish, place the garlic and onions in between, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle the chilli flakes and salt and pepper to taste over the top. Roast for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, until your onions are getting dark edges and your tomatoes are nice and wrinkly. Not too long, though: don’t let the juices evaporate. That’s where the good stuff is hiding!
Take the tomatoes out the oven and let cool slightly. Fish the garlic cloves out the bottom of your dish, and (carefully, they might be hot!) squeeze out the garlic into your heavy-bottomed pot. Then wash your hands, because roasted garlic is sticky! Add the tomatoes and the onions and all the juices from the baking dish or cookie sheet and your chicken stock.
Bring the pot to a boil. Once it’s boiling, let simmer for 15-20 minutes. Turn off the heat, and either by using a stick blender or by transferring the contents to a standing blender, purée the soup until smooth. Taste: if your tomatoes were not as sweet, you can add some sweetness to the soup by adding a bit of honey. Don’t overdo it, though! Add just a little at a time and stir and taste in between.
To serve, sprinkle some roughly chopped basil leaves over the top and dig in!