I used to hate tomato-based soups only slightly less than I despised grilled cheese. I don’t think I ate any pizza before I turned 30 – my hatred of grilled cheese was that great. But I have revised my hatred and embraced both with some fervour – making up for all those lost years it seems…
This soup is easy to make but needs a little time to throw together. The peppers are first grilled so that their skin peels off, then roasted with the tomatoes and garlic until soft, before eventually landing in a pot to become soup. It is well worth it though – the flavours really sing.
I served this with a grilled cheese sandwich – a traditional pairing and April IS (apparently) Grilled Cheese month so why the hell not? Instead of the usual Cheddar (or Jack) cheese filling, I used Greek Feta and goat’s cheese as I thought the pairing would fit well with the tomatoes. It does, it really, really does.
Note: the soup is vegan and Paleo friendly, the grilled cheese sandwich very much not. If you serve the soup on its own you could scatter some croutons on top or add a tablespoon of pistou.
You can add some crushed chilli flakes and a squeeze of lime instead of thyme/balsamic vinegar combo.
For the soup
Serves 2, generously
10 large, preferably vine ripened, tomatoes
2 long red peppers
4 garlic cloves, skin on
2-3 tbsp olive oil
3 banana shallots, roughly chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to season
1 tbsp coriander seeds
- Place the peppers under a really hot grill for a few minutes, turning them once, until the skin blisters all over. Alternatively hold them over a gas hob using tongs, turning them, until they char. Place in a bowl and cover with a plate for a few minutes then peel the skin off, remove the seeds and slice in half.
- Preheat the oven to 180C | 350F. Slice the tomatoes in half and place, cut side up, on a large roasting tray together with the peppers and garlic cloves. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil.
- Bake in the oven for 30minutes until the tomatoes are soft and slightly shrivelled.
- Heat a little olive oil in a large pot (or use some of the roasting oil) and sweat the shallots for 5 minutes over medium heat.
- Add the tomatoes and peppers and any pan juices. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skin and add to the pot together with the thyme, vinegar and stock.
- Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for about half an hour.
- Remove the thyme sprigs and transfer the contents of the pot to a blender or food processor and blitz until smooth. Sieve the soup if you wish to remove seeds and skins (I did). Taste and season.
- Dry fry the coriander seeds over high heat until they start to pop then crush them in a pestle and mortar. Sprinkle over the soup together with some fresh thyme leaves and serve.
For the grilled cheese sandwiches
4 slices bread (any kind, but toasting white bread is best)
60g | 2oz Chèvre goat’s cheese (or any mild, soft goat’s cheese)
60g | 2oz Feta cheese
Spreadable butter or olive oil spread
- Crumble the cheeses in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
- Butter one side of each bread slice.
- Preheat a pan (or a griddle) on a hob. Place the bread slices, buttered side down, on the pan and fry until lightly toasted. You may need to do this in two batches depending on pan size.
- Remove from the pan and spread butter on the other side. Turn over and add the cheese (on the toasted side). Sandwich with another slice (toasted side in).
- Return to the pan and fry for couple of minutes on each side, pressing lightly with a spatula so that the cheese melts. Slice in two and serve immediately with a bowl of hot soup.