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Nigel Slater’s tomato soup with garnishes recipe

I make two tomato soups. The first is little more than crushed cherry tomatoes and basil spiked with red-wine vinegar. The other is more intense, smoky and sweet-sharp from roasting the tomatoes first with olive oil, rosemary and garlic, then crushing them and their blackened skins to a coarse, textured purée.

It is the latter I made this week for two lunches, laid out on the rusty garden table, where I passed around bowls of mussels and fried pancetta, tarragon oil and toasted bread with lemon and pepper for everyone to stir into their soup as they wished.

The second batch, two days later, came with caramelised onions, hot chilli toasts and spoonfuls of cool, white goat’s curd. We finished both lunches with white peaches, sliced and left to marinate in glasses of lightly citrus Kahlenberg Riesling. A dessert as fragrant as it was simple.

Roast tomato soup

Serves 4
tomatoes 1.5kg
onions 2, chopped
olive oil 60ml
garlic 1 whole head
rosemary sprigs 2
red-wine vinegar 2 tsp

Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6. Peel and chop the onions, then transfer them to a roasting tin. Discard the stalks and stems from the tomatoes, then cut them in half (or use whole cherry tomatoes). Pull the needles from the rosemary and mix them with the onions and tomatoes. Pour over the oil, tossing everything together. Place the whole head of garlic, unpeeled, among the tomatoes.

Bake the tomatoes and onions for an hour, with the occasional stir, until the onions are soft, sticky and lightly coloured and the tomatoes have darkened. Remove from the oven and transfer the tomatoes, onions and the roasting juices to a blender or food processor.

Break the garlic into cloves then squeeze the soft, inner flesh of each clove into a small dish. Add half the garlic to the tomatoes and reserve the other. Process the onions and tomato mixture until you have a coarse purée. Season with the vinegar, salt and black pepper and set aside.

Caramelised onions, chillli toasts and goat’s curd and basil oil

For the caramelised onions:
onion 1, large
olive oil 2 tbsp
golden caster sugar 2 tsp
red-wine vinegar 1 tbsp, mellow

Peel and finely slice the onion, then cook it for a good 15-20 minutes in the olive oil in a small pan. Keep the heat low to moderate stirring regularly, so that the onion softens then starts to caramelise. Scatter the sugar over the softened onion, let the sugar melt then, just as it starts to turn brown, stir in the balsamic vinegar.

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For the chilli toasts:
butter 50g
red chilli 1, medium sized
ciabatta 4 slices
sea salt flakes

Melt the butter in a small pan. Halve, seed and finely chop the chilli, then stir it into the butter. Using the oven at 200C/gas mark 6 or an overhead grill, toast the ciabatta on one side then place them on a baking sheet, uncooked side up and spoon over the chilli butter. Toast until the butter starts to sizzle and the bread colours, then sprinkle with sea salt flakes and serve with the soup.

For the goat’s curd and basil oil:
goat’s curd 4 heaped tbsp
olive oil 150ml
basil 20g
roasted garlic 5 cloves

Pour the olive oil into a blender or food processor, add the basil leaves and the garlic cloves and a pinch of salt, then process to a brilliant green oil. Pour into a small jug or bowl.

Serve by ladling the soup into bowls, pass around plates of the hot chilli croutes, a bowl of the goat’s curd and a jug or bowl of basil oil. Add a large spoonful of curd to the soup, a spoonful of the onions, then trickle over some of the basil oil. Float the croutes in the soup as you serve.

Roast tomato soup with pancetta, mussels, tarragon oil and lemon croutons.

Pancetta, mussels, tarragon oil and lemon croutons

For the tarragon oil:
parsley 15g
tarragon leaves 10g
olive oil 150ml

Put the parsley leaves, tarragon and olive oil in a blender. Process to a vivid emerald oil and set aside.

For the lemon croutons:
butter 50g
lemon 1
ciabatta half

Melt the butter in a small pan. Grate the zest of lemon and add to the butter. Season with black pepper. Tear the ciabatta into small pieces, then dunk in the lemon-zest butter. Bake the ciabatta at 200C/gas mark 6 for 7-10 minutes until golden.

For the pancetta and mussels:
pancetta 200g, in the piece
olive oil 2 tbsp
mussels 400g, in their shells, scrubbed
parsley 4 tbsp, chopped

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Cut the pancetta into small dice. Warm the oil in a pan, add the pancetta and fry until golden. Add the mussels, cover for 2 or 3 minutes then, as soon as the shells open, add the chopped parsley and tip into a bowl.

Serve by ladling the soup into bowls. Pass around the fried pancetta and mussels and let everyone add them to their soup. Scatter lemon croutons over the soup, then trickle the tarragon oil over the croutons and mussels.


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