Iced Tomato soup with Basil Oil
Serves 8 as a starter. Best made the day before you need it.
20 medium tomatoes, the best, reddest, most flavoursome you can find – approx 1 and a half kilos
The following subsequent ingredients are sometimes entirely unnecessary, but have them to hand anyway in case your tomatoes aren’t quite as ‘tomatoey’ as you would like:
2 large red bell peppers (capsicums)
2 TBSP red wine vinegar
1 ½ TBSP sea salt flakes
½ tsp chopped, minced garlic
1 TBSP caster sugar
Plenty of fresh ground black pepper
1 cup best olive oil
Handful of basil leaves (removed from stalk)
Pinch of sea salt
A loaf of really good sourdough, a baguette or ciabatta are all good to serve with the soup
Get out the biggest bowl and pot you own. Fill both with water, put the pot on the stove and add as much ice as you can into the bowl of water. If you have lovely vine ripened tomatoes; wash the vines and keep for later.
Skin the tomatoes by piercing, plunging into boiling water and removing after ten seconds or less, when skin just begins to peel away. Plunge immediately into ice bath. Do this in small batches of tomatoes and wait for the water to come to the boil again before introducing the next batch. A small metal sieve is a good scooping implement for this job or even a Chinese style ‘spider’ spoon, but old fashioned slotted will do. Remember, you do not want the tomato to cook at all or the flavour will resemble tomato sauce. Peel the tomatoes in the iced water, cut out area where the stalk meets the tomato if it looks tough, chop and put into food processor. I use an immersion blender and an enormous jug to hold the tomatoes for this job, but a magimix or similar is just as good.
Taste, and decide what of the subsequent ingredients (if any) you need to add. I made our soup with half a box of baby San Marzanos. It did not need a single other ingredient…including salt!
If using; hold bell peppers with metal tongs over gas flame until they blacken and blister. Peel, deseed, chop and put into food processor with tomatoes.
Add vinegar, seasonings and pulse again. The seasonings are only a guide. Slowly add more vinegar, sugar and salt to taste, but remember that flavours are intensified after chilling and you can always season again just before serving.
Chill in fridge for at least good couple of hours before serving if you haven’t managed to make it the day before. Place the reserved, washed, vines into the soup before chilling. Most of the essence of ‘tomato-iness’ (I know…terrible… but couldn’t come up with any better word), in fact comes from the leaves and stalks of the tomato, and placing the vines into the soup helps to impart some of this wonderful aroma and intensifies the flavours. This isn’t a silly suggestion – I promise it really works.
Make the basil oil by blending the basil leaves and oil with a tiny pinch of salt (again, best done with an immersion blender).
If it is really hot outside you can serve the soup with ice cubes floating about. Spoon a drizzle of basil oil over the surface and serve with some thin slices of garlic rubbed toasted sourdough, a chunk of hot baguette or some fat slices of warm Ciabatta bread.