Spicy Tomato Soup

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This yummy soup is adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s recipe for “creamy tomato soup with sundried tomato pesto” from his book Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Home Cooking. I made it the other night and it was delicious! I am using less cream than Gordon and a bit more cayenne pepper along with mozzarella soldiers on the side. This should feed 4-6 people comfortably as a starter, or 4 as a main course.

For the soup

1.5kg fresh, ripe tomatoes, halved and cored
2 red onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1/2 to 1tsp cayenne pepper, depending how spicy you want it
Olive oil for drizzling
1 tsp castor sugar
2 tsps good, balsamic vinegar
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
Good dollop thick or double cream, optional though it does add to the richness
Salt and fresh ground pepper

For the sundried tomato pesto

3-4 tbsps pine nuts
75-85gms drained sundried tomato – oil reserved
60gms fresh grated parmesan
Olive oil

For mozzarella soldiers

4-6 thickish slices wholemeal, or rye, or sourdough bread, or something sturdy and crusty
Grated mozzarella to cover
pepper

Method

1) Heat the oven to 180˚C/Gas 4
2) Slice the onions and garlic and place on a roasting tray on a medium heat on the hob of your cooker; sprinkle the cayenne pepper and drizzle the olive oil and mix well. Leave to cook for about 4 minutes.
3) Add the tomatoes, cut half down; sprinkle sugar, balsamic vinegar, pinch of salt, pepper and cook on a high heat fir 5 mins until tomatoes and onions begin caramelise. Give it a good stir and place in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes.

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4) Place the tray on a medium heat on the hob and stir in some or all of the stock, depending on the depth of your tray: simmer for about 5 minutes and pour the mixture into a large saucepan; bring back to a simmer. Add a dollop of cream, stir and simmer on a low heat for few minutes. With a stick blender, puree the soup dependant on the consistency you wish to achieve. I pureed mine pretty smooth.

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5) The sundried tomato pesto can be made while the tomatoes are in the oven:
6) Put the sundried tomatoes in a blender; toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan on a medium heat until they take on a golden colour — be careful, pine nuts can burn before you can say,” “bugger, I’ve ruined it!”
7) Add pine nuts to blender with a little salt and blend to a rough consistency; add the parmesan and olive oil and blend again until you have the consistency of pesto; add some of the reserved sundried tomato oil and your mixture takes on a gloopy, spooning consistency .

8) Turn up the heat in the empty oven (you will have removed the tomatoes by now) to 220˚C; slice the bread thickly for the mozzarella soldiers and toast lightly in a toaster. Remove and sprinkle grated mozzarella on the toast and add some black pepper; put on a rack in the oven until the cheese is melted. Slice toast into soldiers.
9) Pour the soup into bowls and have your pesto on the table for family/guests to spoon into their soup; serve with the cheesy soldiers on the side.

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