I must admit I love cooking with tomatoes.
I don’t eat them raw often, very willingly, although they can be nice. Yech. Too many poor salads as I grew up.
But they can be nice. Think tomato and avocado sandwiches. Think tomato and pesto salad. Think raw tomato tossed through hot spaghetti with a chilli and some olive oil. I do eat them raw, I guess, but I love cooking with them too.
Recently, I have been oven baking them into a wonderful sauce for pasta. For stirring through a vegetable hot pot. For baking beans in a la Tuscan Baked Beans (but use the juicy baked tomatoes instead of water). For use in curries. The juicy roasted sauce can be frozen as well, for use in some later delectable dish.
I bake them whole with a couple of slits made with a sharp knife. I bake them with onion, garlic, chilli, lime or lemon. Perhaps some herbs. They cook at 100C to 150C all afternoon on a cool day. Every couple of hours I give them a prod and a stir, and the tomatoes give up their juice and the accoutrements soften and collapse into the sauce. So Yummy. And they scent the house as they bake.
Tonight, a thick, quick, Greek-style soup. The weather is turning cooler now. It hailed today. My soup genes were activated and as the wind howled outside, I sipped soup and talked to my daughter in London on the phone.
I used some fregola in the soup; fregola is an Italian hand rolled and toasted rice-sized or couscous-sized pasta made from semolina. But it is not necessary – you can leave it out, use very small pasta such as Risoni or Ditalini, if you have children add some alphabet noodles :-), or use small Greek noodles.
I am not one for peeling tomatoes and removing seeds. In this soup it is the bulk that the gives it a rustic and wonderful texture and flavour.
There are two methods that can be used. My usual one is to chop the tomatoes into small chunks about 0.5 cm and use in the soup. Just before you add the stock, use your blender or hand held blender to zap the tomatoes, and magic – no skins.
The second method is to grate the tomatoes. This is a little known secret. Take your grater and place it in a large bowl. Using the larger grating holes, hold the tomato by the stem and grate. What happens is that the skin splits and does not grate, and the pulp of the tomato is released into the dish. You end up with just the tomato skin and stem in your hand, and you can discard these. The seeds remain in the soup but this is a Greek rustic soup and it is much better with the seeds in.
Rustic Tomato Soup with Feta
Source : inspired by The Glorious Foods of Greece
Prep time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 15 mins
Serves: 4 – 6 people, depending how you use it
1 Tblspn olive oil
750g or more tomatoes, fat and juicy
1 red pepper, chopped into small pieces
1.5 – 2 cups water
handful of small pasta or tiny noodles (optional)
0.25 cup approx Greek feta, crumbled
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and add the grated or chopped tomatoes. Cook for 10 – 15 minutes.
If blending is required for a smoother soup, blend in a blender or with a hand held stick blender.
Add the water and season with salt and pepper. Don’t over-salt as the feta will be a little salty.
Bring to the boil, and add the pasta or noodles if using. Cook until tender, about 7 minutes.
Add more water if the soup is too thick.
Serve hot or warm. Top with a drizzle of excellent olive oil and crumbled feta.