Tomato soup


I've made all sorts of different tomato soups over the years, and this is probably one of the simplest and tastiest. Here's the trick... if you go down to your local market at the end of the day you may find they are selling off tomatoes cheap. More than likely the seller thinks they are over-ripe, but they are more probably just perfect and will make great soup. If you can't get these, buy tomatoes two or three days before you need them, but don't keep them in the fridge as they won't ripen. Leave them on a windowsill to get ripe. If there's a choice then have a taste – you'll be amazed how different they can be, so choose the ones that taste the best. The second trick is the slow cooking, which makes them very sweet. Best served in warm bowls or mugs at the table with some really fresh bread.

Put your onion, garlic, carrot and basil stalks into a large pot with a couple of lugs of olive oil. Cover the pan, and simmer gently without colouring for 20 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes. Whisk together the cream, vinegar and egg yolks in a small bowl and put to one side. While the veg are simmering, drop the tomatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds, then remove the skins and roughly chop the flesh. Add these to the veg, then pour in the stock and simmer for a further 20 minutes with the lid on. At this point it's nice to purée the soup using either a food processor, a liquidizer or a hand-held blender, but be careful as it will be hot. Once you've puréed the soup, put it back into the pan, bring it back to a simmer, and season very carefully with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Just before serving, to enrich the soup and give it a shine and silky texture, whisk in the cream mixture (don’t reboil it after adding the egg yolks or it will scramble) and serve straight away, sprinkled with a few torn-up basil leaves, if you like.

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