I had big plans for the month of May’s food blogging. I imagined warm, heady days and evenings with just the merest hint of a chill; only enough for you to want to drape a soft, luxurious shawl (the glamorous, sloaney kind rather than the old woman variety) over your shoulders, pour another glass of Prosecco and tuck in to a series of spring based, voluptuous salads. The weather clearly has other ideas. I am actually almightily cold and despite managing a few enjoyable suppers using simple, fresh, hardly cooked ingredients, my body is rebelling and demanding that I make and eat something warm and comforting.
I think we are a little too far from winter to warrant a pie or bake of some variety, and I don’t think a sugar based pudding is really what my body and soul needs either. In times like these, when you feel tired, cold, worn down and a tad pessimistic, there is really only one thing that can help matters and that is a gloriously fragrant, steaming hot bowl of soup. Heaven.
This soup is based on a recipe of mine for Roasted Tomatoes, Peppers and Thyme. It is a simple yet delightful affair in which you roast the peppers, tomatoes together with a mixture of olive oil, soft brown sugar and thyme and then serve on top of a base of grilled polenta. The flavours are sweet and satisfying and I felt they would translate well in to a soup. Wild garlic can be found everywhere at this time of year: look in your garden, the hedgerow, the roadside, your local woods or fields. You can’t miss their noble stance and their light froth of white, pungently scented flowers. I imagine that there are some very clever culinary things you can do with wild garlic but I like to keep it simple: tear up the leaves and throw in the flowers to soups, pesto’s, pastas and sauces. You will find that they are delightfully light and delicately scented – a rather heady blend of garlic, chives and very mild spring onions, diluted down to a sweet herbal infusion- and work very well with tomatoes. In fact, the combination of roasted tomatoes and onions and the aroma of wild garlic make the most delicious, velvety soup that will be sure to wipe away any weariness or longing for the summer warmth you may have.
Remember to wash your wild garlic thoroughly before use to ensure you don’t get any unwanted visitors in your soup. If you can’t find any wild garlic then you can use 3 cloves of bulb garlic. Keep the skins on and add to the roasting pan with the tomatoes and onion, once cooked add the tomatoes and onion to the stock as instructed and then squeeze in the roasted garlic cloves, which will be thick and gooey. Purists would insist that we sieve the soup before serving but I rather like a little texture in my soup and so am happy to keep it pure and simple, do though feel free to make your own choice.
ROASTED TOMATO AND WILD GARLIC SOUP
8 medium sized tomatoes (plum, vine or regular are all fine)
1 large red onion
A large handful of wild garlic leaves and flowers (around 7 stems)
6 sprigs of thyme
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp soft brown sugar
1 litre of vegetable stock
Preheat the oven to 200c (180c Fan). Prepare the tomatoes and onion by peeling the onion and cutting in to eighths, then slice each tomato in half. Place them in a small roasting pan so that they form one layer, drizzle with the olive oil and sugar, scatter over the thyme and season well. Bake in the oven for 55 minutes.
Meanwhile heat the vegetable stock in a large saucepan and finely slice the wild garlic leaves and flowers. Add the garlic to the vegetable stock and simmer for 5 minutes. When the tomatoes are roasted, remove from the oven and pick out the thyme twigs and discard. Place the tomatoes and onion in to the hot vegetable stock, remembering to scrape in all the lovely caramelised juices, and then using a hand held blender, blitz until the tomatoes break down to form a creamy, rich soup. Alternatively, you can place the soup in a blender or food processor and blitz until smooth and amalgamated. Season to taste and then serve while hot.
All recipes and images © 2010 Pippa Kendrick, The Intolerant Gourmet