I normally associate soup with winter but this one is great in summer. The tomatoes are at their best and it is more like a thin broth than a creamed soup. You can also eat it cold. It is a tiny bit more work than most soups as you have to roast & peel the peppers (I hate that job) but it is totally worth it.
I recently came across our copy of The Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver. This is one of the first cookbooks I ever used & I hadn’t seen it for years. The recipes are really fantastic, it’s not really a surprise that Jamie has become such a superstar. This recipe comes directly from that book with just one small tweak for my tastebuds (a touch of sugar). I used to make it regularly & then forgot all about it until now.
The smashed basil really makes this soup come alive so please don’t leave it out. I like to serve it with some olive oil & balsamic glaze & bread. You can turn it into a real feast by serving olives, cheeses & cured meats too. Altogether it makes a great lunch if you have a bunch of friends coming round. It is really impressive without too much work.
It is quite important that the tomatoes you use are really ripe & tasty. I use a chilli with mild heat & leave the seeds in so that there is warmth from it but it doesn’t overpower the other ingredients.
Fresh Tomato & Sweet Chilli Pepper Soup with Smashed Basil
Ingredients (Serves 4):
10-12 ripe tomatoes
2 peppers (not green, they should be sweet)
4-5 tbsp olive oil
1 chilli (mild)
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
300ml vegetable stock
bunch of fresh basil
1. Roast the whole peppers until the skin is charred & blistered. This can be done in the oven or over a flame. Place them in a covered bowl for a few minutes before peeling & chopping them into small cubes.
2. Finely chop the chilli. Heat half the olive oil in a saucepan & gently fry the chopped peppers & chilli for about 5 minutes. Add a pinch of salt.3. Chop the garlic & fry that with the peppers & chilli for a few minutes.
4. While the other ingredients are frying you can chop the tomatoes, they should be finely sliced or diced, not in chunks. Jamie removes the skin but I don’t see the point as it is not noticeable in the final result. Once the garlic smell is coming through add the tomatoes, red wine vinegar, sugar & a large pinch of salt, freshly cracked black pepper & cook everything gently for about 10 minutes.
5. Add the vegetable stock & simmer for a further 10-15 minutes. Check the seasoning, it will probably need more salt but this depends on the stock. If the soup is too hot with chilli, add some sugar to take out some of the heat. If it needs more heat you can add more pepper.
A useful trick I learned from a Heston Blumenthal show is to steep the tomato vine in the soup. If you leave it for a few hours it imparts the aroma of tomato vine into the soup. I am not sure this would be to everyone’s taste but I love it & often do this when making tomato sauces.