We’re down to the last few weeks of summer, and it’s going by way too quickly! Plus, the sunny weather not having really made an honest appearance this year has had me craving cold weather food. Not a weekend day goes by without me wondering what to whip up for lunch in between loads of laundry, grocery errands, and cleaning bathrooms. So, on a less than ideal summer day, I turned to soup for the answer to a busy weekend lunch option.
This week, we revisited the tomato soup, in its more home made form. Following the success of waffle grilled cheese sandwiches with Heinz tomato soup, I was asked to serve “something with tomatoes” for lunch. This soup really hit a home run. While I might normally recommend this soup for colder days, if you live someplace where the weather hasn’t really acted like it should for summer, you won’t mind chowing down on a bowl of this, even in August.
This soup comes to us from Nigella Lawson’s Kitchen book. I’ve cooked from this book so many times I’ve lost count. This book has everything – quick and easy, low and slow, tasty, savoury, decadent and delightful. Nigella slotted this recipe in a chapter called “The cook’s cure for Sunday-night-itis”. How swell is that? She suggests that a bowl of this will get you ready to face whatever’s coming at you Monday morning, but I dare say that it also hits the spot on a busy Saturday afternoon, when you’re trying to juggle chores throughout the day, and the morning’s breakfast of toast and jam just isn’t going to keep you going until the evening’s final meal.
The recipe comes together easily – Nigella uses fresh tomatoes (a boon for the gardener in the summer), but I used canned tomatoes, because at this time of year, it’s still too early to get a good yield from my garden’s bounty. The pasta is optional, but I find it makes a complete meal, and is perfect for lunch. Nigella also offers two options for the soup: the first involves leaving the chopped vegetables intact, and the second involves pureeing the soup before adding the pasta. Personally, I prefer leaving nice chunks of tomatoes and onions in the soup with the pasta. Otherwise, it feels too much like pasta with a soupy tomato sauce. The choice is yours.
This soup got me a lot of compliments, and truth be told, it was a cinch to make. I cut corners a bit by using canned tomatoes instead of blanching and skinning some fresh ones, as Nigella instructs, but I’m sure my version tastes just as comforting as hers… I’ve garnished this with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and some chopped fresh parsley from my garden. A bit a freshly ground pepper, and I was in heaven.
A tasty, easy soup that delights any time of year. If you prefer to use fresh tomatoes instead of canned, use 6 large ripe ones. You will want to remove their skins before chopping and proceeding with the soup, so drop them in some freshly boiled water for a few minutes. Remove them from the water, and when cool enough to handle, you can peel off the skins relatively easily.
This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson's Kitchen cook book.
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
- A few grinds of pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 28 oz can of chopped/diced tomatoes
- 6 cups water
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 cup soup pasta (choose a shape you like, or mix up the remainders of what's left in your cupboard)
- chopped fresh parsley, to serve (optional)
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve (optional, but highly recommended)
- Warm the oil over medium heat in a thick bottomed pan (one that has a lid).
- Add the onion, and stir often, to ensure the onion doesn't burn. Cook for a minute or two.
- Add the salt and pepper, and continue stirring. Cook until the onion softens, but hasn't browned.
- Add the garlic, and cook two more minutes.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, the water and the sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat.
- Put the lid on the pan, then lower the heat and let the soup simmer for 15 minutes.
- Remove the lid, bring back to the boil and add the pasta to cook until tender (about 15 minutes).
- Let the soup rest for about 10 minutes before serving. Taste, and re-adjust the seasonings if need be.
- Serve in bowls, and garnish with some fresh parsley and Parmesan, if using. A few extra grinds of pepper might be a good idea too.