Soup for Julia

We were recently hugely privileged to be asked to cater for the friends and family of one of Merrow’s most loved and respected residents. This wonderfully kind lady always had a smile on her face and a pack of biscuits in her hand to share around. As the colder Autumn days approached, her final days, being the ever – thoughtful lady she was, she was still thinking of other people – and requested that when her time came- that the guests be able to enjoy sandwiches and cakes and copious cups of tea plus – a mug of hot home made soup. Her favourite was Rustic Tomato.

As expected, hundreds and hundreds of people came to St Pius on a cold rainy Monday to say their goodbyes. As requested by so very many of them … here is the recipe for the soup Tom made for her guests and we served on that day (albeit he made 45 times the quantity I suggest here!) …

To serve 6 .. In a large saucepan with a tablespoon of oil, place 2 large finely diced carrots, 2 thinly sliced celery sticks and 2 finely chopped onions. Now put the lid on the pan and allow the vegetables to sauté and soften for about 15 minutes. Now add 2 finely chopped fresh garlic cloves, 2 tins of the best tomatoes you can find and 6 large chopped fresh red tomatoes (no need to skin them). Allow all these vegetables to simmer away for about another 15 minutes. Then add a really good handful of chopped fresh basil leaves which will wilt immediately in the hot nectar.

Finally, you can season to your taste – a good pinch of salt, and a good grind of fresh black pepper. Perhaps a pinch or 2 of sugar may also be your liking? But, without the latter, apart from still being delicious it is a great way towards your healthy five -a -day.

That’s it! Now it is up to you how to serve it – we wanted it really thick and rustic so just blended with the hand blender for a few seconds. Or you could serve it really smooth and blend for much longer – even sieve it (if you have the time or inclination!). Even add some water or stock if you like it less thick and rich. If you want to cheat you could also just double up on the tinned tomatoes and leave out the fresh ones. But to be honest, whilst a little cheat is often no problem, with this soup – the better the quality of the tinned tomatoes and more importantly – the smell, flavour and texture of the fresh ones really does make all the difference. And please, no dried basil or dried garlic for this one.

So, there you are…. a very simple, very delicious soup – especially for Julia.

Enjoy
Sue