Garden tomato and basil soup

Our tomatoes are starting to pick up the pace in our garden. We need to pick them early to stop the caterpillars having a feast before we do. Soup is a great way to hide any less then perfect tomatoes. I used some that had split from the fluctuating rain and my half-hearted attempts at remembering to watering. I recommend using a tomato peeler – it makes the job ultra easy with it’s special serrated jaws. Add some milk to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. Make a big batch if you like, and then freeze the leftovers. You could use this recipe as a basis for passata for pasta sauce or a stew base.

Garden Tomato and Basil Soup

1 onion, chopped
1 garlic, minced
1 cup tomatoes, cored, peeled and chopped
1 cup vegetable stock
1 tbsp soy milk or milk
1 tbsp sugar
½ lemon, juiced
4 fresh basil leaves, chopped

  1. Saute the onion and garlic in some canola oil for several minutes.
  2. Combine the tomato, stock, soy milk, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan.
  3. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Take off the heat and add some basil leaves.
  5. Puree in a blender or food processor.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with basil.
  7. Serve with toasted cheese sandwiches or a crusty bread roll for a easy dinner or quick lunch.

Variation: Use a tin of tomatoes or a cup of tomato juice (e.g. V8) instead of real tomatoes.

Serves 2.

Istarska minestra – Istrian minestrone (Croatian)

Istrian Minestrone

Cooked for the Croatian entry of the Euro Cup and Plate challenge.

1 can borlotti beans
1 smoked pork hock
1 cup diced soup vegetables – carrots, swede, turnip …
1 small tin sweet corn
1 bay leaf
1 cup small pasta shells
3 tbsp cooking oil
1 large onion, diced
1 can peeled tomatoes
2 tbps vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a large pot, add the pork and cover with water to cook over medium-heat. When the pot comes to the boil, remove from heat and drain the water. Add fresh water to cover the pork hock, diced soup vegetables, corn and bay leaf. Simmer for at least 2 hours to allow the flavours to develop.
  2. After an hour and a half, cook the pasta separately.
  3. Heat the oil in a separate frying pan over medium-heat and brown the onion. Add tomatoes and borlotti beans, stir briefly and add to the soup along with the cooked pasta.
  4. Stir in the vinegar before serving. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Remove the pork hock, cut it into smaller pieces and return to the soup.

Serves 4.