There are some dishes which are classics. Tomato soup is one of them. No matter where you have it or how it is made, you can't really find fault with it, and it will always appeal to your palate in some way. However, for some reason, my tomato soups never do turn out well and I'm baffled at getting stumped by this simple little dish.
This weekend was a cold and grey one in Delhi. It looked colder than it was but it was pretty cold all right and I haven't as yet recovered from my bad cough and cold problem of last week. Naturally, then, soup had to be on the menu. I wanted to make one of my favourite hearty soups - a thick pumpkin soup with salsa and sent out my husband and the driver separately to get the pumpkin. Alas, both of them got this pale, watery, unsweet looking pumpkin which was only good for sabzi, not soup-making. What to do?
Then I had a brainwave and decided to adapt the recipe in my own way. I had bought lots of plump garlic pods last week from the supermarket, so into an aluminum foil they went, with a dribble of good olive oil. I thought - why not experiment with roasting the tomatoes, since the ones we had to home weren't too juicy, more the fleshy kind which makes better salad/ spice. So the garlic and tomatoes were popped into the oven and roasted away all afternoon while I was busy with some work I had to carry home. After roasting for a good 45 minutes, the garlic gave off a yummy odour and the tomatoes were nicely charred.
Since I had to rush out to office in a few minutes, I peeled the tomatoes and garlic and just blitzed them together. A nice, thick liquid emerged which was surprisingly garlic-odour free, though my hands sure weren't. There was some red wine vinegar on the counter, so I poured in a splosh of that. The dry white wine we'd had with dinner Friday was also still lying on the counter, so that got added into the mix. Into the saucepan, to bubble, bubble toil and trouble until the house was redolent with the fragrance of simmering tomatoes.
Served hot with freshly ground black pepper, this was - honestly - the best tomato soup I've ever had. Wow, I impressed myself! Of course, fried croutons would have added the icing on the cake but weight-watching me isn't having croutons at the moment :(
Do try this soup - it's perfect to warm up a grey and hazy winter day.
2 whole garlics
1 red onion, roughly chopped
Handful basil leaves
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp dry white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
Wrap the garlic in aluminum foil, with a drizzling of good quality of olive oil. Put into the oven to roast along with the tomatoes for about 45 minutes, until the tomatoes are slightly charred and the garlic is soft and squishes right out of the wrapper.
Pour a glug of good olive oil into a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the torn basil leaves and the onions. Cook until the onions are soft, then add the tomatoes and garlic. Cook together for 2-3 minutes and remove from heat. When cool, blitz into a fine puree.
Pour back into the saucepan and add 750 ml water or stock ( I used water). Add the wine, sugar, salt and vinegar and let it come to a boil. turn the heat to simmer, and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes.
Serve with freshly cracked pepper, and if liked, some basil leaves for garnish.