Thursday, 20 March 2014

Almost Soup Time Again

Autumn is such a bountiful season and of course one of the busiest - we've had loads of passion fruit this year, the persimmons and figs are colouring nicely, and the feijoa tree is threatening to unleash the usual truckloads of fruit in a few weeks. My vege garden is bursting with chilies, capsicums, celeriac, basil, zucchini, Cape Gooseberries and lots of herbs. I''m about to make lots of Mexican tomatillo salsa base and freeze it, I can never make enough of this -  and I'm almost over run with tomatoes, the cherry tomatoes especially have produced fantastically well. Relish, chutney and pasta/pizza sauces are all squirreled away, but before I forget to mention it, I grew two tomaccio cherry tomato plants this year with spectacular results. I love the shape of these little tomatoes, slightly oval like the datterini we loved in the Italian markets, and so sweet! Apparently they've been especially bred with a slightly thicker skin than usual, which makes them prefect for drying in an oven (3 hours at 105 C) or dehydrator. They make great snacks or add them to pizza toppings,salads etc, they're completely delicious and are heavy croppers.

As if all this bounty isn't enough, I received a royalty cheque in the mail today - my 'Relish' cookbook is selling very well - yay! I've wanted to write a chutney/relish/sauce/salsa/pickle/ plus book for quite a few years now, so I'm delighted on a number of levels.

It's not that I'm wishing the end of the good weather; on the contrary, I dread bleak days and long, cold nights. However, the leaves are turning, it's really dark when I walk the dog in the morning and there's a distinct nip in the air that intimates winter isn't too far away. A perfect time for that first soup, in fact. . .

Roasted  Red Capsicum and tomato Soup

                               Roasted Red Capsicum & Tomato Soup

Roasted capsicum & tomato soup is superb, with a simplicity and elegance that makes a perfect starter or light meal; try it alongside toasted ciabatta topped with diced fresh tomato, avocado, feta, lemon juice and fresh coriander.
Serves 6.
Freezes well.

4 red capsicums (500g)
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 2 cm dice
1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
2 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped finely
500g tomatoes*, halved through the equator
1 medium-large red onion, peeled and cut into 6
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 litre unsalted chicken or vegetable stock
¼ cup tomato paste
2 ½ tsp salt or to taste & freshly ground pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp chilli powder
Cream to garnish (optional)
flat leaf parsley, coriander or basil plus orange zest if wished

Pre heat the oven to 190 C.
Place the capsicums on an oven tray and roast about 25 minutes - until the skins are blistered and blackened in patches. When cool enough to handle, peel and discard the core and seeds.
While the capsicums are roasting, toss the carrot in 2 Tbsp of the oil on a separate, large shallow baking tray and roast for 10 minutes.
Combine the remaining oil, the balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt and rosemary. Place the tomatoes on the tray cut side up, and drizzle with some of the oil and balsamic mix. Toss the onion with the carrots, garlic, and the remaining oil and balsamic mix.
Return the tray to the oven and roast for a further 20 minutes or until all the vegetables are cooked through. Toss the carrot/onion /garlic mix once or twice.
Cool and invert the tomatoes; pluck off the skins and discard.
Combine all the roasted vegetables, stock, tomato paste, salt, pepper, smoked paprika and chilli. Puree in batches in a processor until very smooth.
Reheat and adjust the seasoning to taste. Pour into heated serving bowls and garnish with a swirl of cream, herb of choice and some threads of orange zest if wished.

*Preferably acid free