Roasted Tomato and Pepper Soup

This weekend, the snowdrops popped out and the sun winked at us for the first time in a good long while. I had a sudden feeling that Sunday might just be the last soup Sunday in awhile. So, for what might be the last hurrah, I had to take on a classic, in a rather majestic way. The secret to the strength of flavour that comes with this smooth, dark orange soup is the oven – pre-roast the veggies and everything intensifies.

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This recipe makes about 6 portions, so plenty to share or put in the freezer.

You will need:

2 large red onions, or 4 small ones

1 1/2 red peppers

3 cloves of garlic

1 large carrot

1 punnet cherry tomatoes

6-8 tomatoes on the vine

12 salad tomatoes

Note: use wherever tomatoes you like in whatever quantity. I tend to mix up the types by what looks good in the supermarket. The salad ones are cheapest and give you bulk, but I like the cherry tomatoes for a sweeter, deeper flavour. Beef tomatoes work well too.

olive oil

chicken or vegetable stock, 2 cubes or about a litre plus extra water

salt and black pepper

oregano, basil, paprika, chilli powder

lemon juice

a pinch of caster sugar

Worcester sauce – just a dash.

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1. Heat the oven to about 200C and line a couple of baking trays with tin foil, then add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and place in the oven to heat.

2. Quarter the onions and chop the the peppers into chunks. Don’t peel the garlic – it’ll roast nicely inside the skin. Chuck into a tray, carefully (don’t burn yourself) and season. Half the tomatoes and add to the trays.

3. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, chop the carrot into fine pieces and sauté without browning and prepare the stock.

5. Take the first tray out of the oven when the onions are starting to look vaguely translucent and the skin on the peppers is starting to shrivel. Allow to cool for a short time as this will help you to remove the pepper skins more easily. Chop up the onions, peel and chop the garlic and peppers, add to the soup pot and sauté.

6. The tomatoes are a bit fiddly, but it will help everything go more smoothly if you roast them until the skins have started to come away themselves, and if you let them cool a little so you can pull the skins off with your fingers. Then chop the larger ones and add to the pot.

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7. Add the stock and seasoning, stir, put a lid on and allow to simmer on a medium heat for around 40 minutes, stirring every now and then to prevent sticking.

8. As you’ve removed the skins, most of the stuff you would normally need to sieve out has been taken away, however, you’ll still need to blend with a stick blender and sieve out the tomato seeds and any bits of stringy pulp. Be patient – your soup is worth it!

The soup will keep well in the fridge for around 4 days, and is great frozen and reheated.

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