Tomato “Ketchup” soup (for grown ups)

When I was younger, I held an unequivocal love for ketchup. Admittedly i was in no way under the illusion that i was alone in this allegiance, nor was i hardcore enough to create condiment-cornflake concoctions, but I definitely did like to slather my food in the stuff. Sausage and Mash, spaghetti Bolognese, cheese sandwiches, even sunday lunch much to the horror of my brother. It wasn’t so much the combination that was alarming, it was the sheer necessity, and even now i do often feel the need to add a quick squirl over my dinner. Looking back it’s easy to recognise that it’s purely down to the high sugar levels and my sneaky-but-in-no-way-secret sweet tooth, however there’s also a whole heap of other stuff on the ingredient list (amidst the junk) that captured my imagination.

Vinegar, celery, onion, garlic…

I like to make soup. And i like to make soup on cold wintery days. Today was a cold wintery day…

You see where im going with this whole list thing. With a fridge full of cherry tomatoes teetering on the edge of “best before” I decided to play the master at its own game and tackle Heinzless ketchup soup. Upon reflection it doesn’t taste too much like ketchup, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering it contains only natural sugars and a high hit of vitamin A, C and K (thats healthy sight, cells and blood to you and me).

INGREDIENTS  –  500g halved Cherry tomatoes (plum or beef would work too)   –  1 small onion    –  1/2 leek   – 2 sticks of celery   –  1/2 red pepper   –   a few sundried tomatoes   –  dash of olive oil   –  a dash of balsamic   – 2 cloves of garlic   –  salt & pepper   –  3 cups of water

Preheat your oven to 180°C (360°F)

1. Place your halved tomatoes in a medium-sized bake-tray and drizzle with oil and balsamic and seasoning with salt and pepper. Chop the garlic in half and stud around the tomatoes. After giving it all a good shake around, put in the oven for around 25-30 minutes depending on the size of tomatoes used.

2. Chop all the remaining vegetables into small squares, rings or chunks depending on your creative persuasion, and begin to heat some oil in a large saucepan. When the oil is hot enough, add the onion. After a 5 minute headstart, add the rest of the vegetables and stir occasionally over a low heat, until they are soft and browned.

3. By now your tomatoes should look shrivelled, and be swimming in a pan of tomato juice and vinegar. Add all of this to the pan of vegetables, and add the 3 cups of water. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.

4. Nearly there, using a handheld food blender, whizz up the soup until there are no lumps. For a silkier soup you can use a sieve, but then you miss out on all the goodness of the tomato skins. Serve and enjoy.

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