This soup is an attempt to distil that heady scent of tomatoes at the height of the season when they are at their very best; to concentrate and sweeten that amazing flavour. And while it might seem counterproductive to spend two hours cooking the tomatoes to reduce the liquid and concentrate the flavour, only to then reconstitute it into a soup, this is depth of flavour you can’t achieve by boiling up tomatoes and stock.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 3 lb 2 oz (1.4 kg) very ripe, very red vine tomatoes (about 15 large ones), sliced in half
- 2 small red onions, halved
- 4 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
- several bushy sprigs of soft summer thyme
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- a pinch of dark brown sugar (you may not need this if the tomatoes are very ripe and sweet)
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 120°C fan (250°F) Gas 1.
- Spread the tomato halves over a large roasting pan, cut side up, and dot the onion halves and garlic cloves in the spaces between. Sprinkle over the thyme sprigs, then drizzle the oil over everything. Sprinkle over the sugar, if using, and a good pinch of salt. Pop in the oven and bake for about 2 hours, or until the tomatoes are well cooked, smell sweet and are beginning to collapse.
- Extract the garlic cloves from the pan. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins. Tip the tomatoes, thyme, garlic and any juices in the roasting pan into a liquidizer.
- Pour 300 ml [1¼ cups] hot water into the roasting pan and use a spatula to scrape any juices and baked bits up off the bottom of the pan. Pour all this into the liquidizer, too. Blend until smooth, adding a splash more hot water if needed to get it to a nice smooth but thick consistency. Taste and season well with salt and pepper.
- If necessary, tip the soup into a clean pan set over low heat and heat gently to rewarm, then serve.