Beyond the frankly tropical climate of my office at work, winter has taken hold in earnest this past week. I've grudgingly rescued last years gloves and scarves from the back of the cupboard, and come to terms with having them on now for the next six months. Sigh. Goodbye autumn, you were beautiful while you lasted.
One of the few things that I relish about winter is the prospect of cooking great steaming vats of vegetable soups and stews. There really is nothing quite as heartwarming as sinking your teeth into a soft, gravy soaked dumpling or a crust of buttered,soup-stained bread on a cold day. Soups like this one, where the veg are roasted first, have a sweet intensity that makes me forget that I won't be leaving the house with bare legs again for half a year. Roll on Summer 2012...
ROASTED TOMATO, CHILLI AND ROSEMARY SOUP
1.5kg ripe plum (or other small sweet) tomatoes
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
350ml vegetable stock
3 tbsp olive oil
1) Place the tomatoes in a large roasting tin and toss in one tablespoon of the oil. Cook at 375f/190c/gas 5 for 45 minutes - take care as you remove the tin from the oven as the tomatoes will have released lots of piping hot juices.
2) Meanwhile, cook the onion over a medium heat in the remaining olive oil for ten minutes, or until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, chilli and rosemary and fry for another five minutes, stirring often to prevent the garlic from burning. Add the cooked tomatoes, tomato juices and stock, and allow to cool.
3) After five minutes, blitz in an electric blender until very smooth, then strain through a fine sieve (you don't have to do this but I find the tomato pips a bit distracting otherwise), and check for seasoning. Add a little salt if necessary before serving.