There is nothing like the taste of Heinz Tomato Soup to comfort you from the inside out on a cold winter’s day. This recipe comes a very close second.
First things first though. Today it snowed. Not as much as I would have liked as I’m desperate for a snowday. You know the ones, where you just can’t leave the house and everything feels suspended? I long for those days in winter. There is absolutely nothing like them. I’ve always thought it would be a great idea, if I were a television programmer, to completely change the schedule just for snowdays. The very idea makes me tingle with delight. Slightly less relevant these days with the onset of smart TV, but still, makes me smile nonetheless.
Of course, on snowdays you wear layers of clothing, starting with pyjamas and add inappropriately throughout the day. Moreover, you graze on anything and everything because snowdays are full of magic which means nothing counts as real. Watching, mesmerised, as the flakes fall silently onto the ground, willing them to create a thick carpet so that you can go out tomorrow, and build a snowman.
Whilst grazing on the most bizarre combinations of foodstuffs, the notion of tomato soup almost always pops up. It’s thick, sweet, creamy texture just makes sense in an otherwise flurried world.
I’m not sure whether it’s still the case, but as I was growing up, every household had a tin of soup stashed somewhere in the kitchen. A ‘just in case’ tin. On snowdays, when we were left at home, we invariably opened said tin, which was, inevitably, Heinz Tomato Soup. However, if you find yourself without this 1970’s prerequisite, then it is the simplest thing to make.
Firstly, chop an onion and fry in a little butter and oil until translucent. Then, add as many tomato products as you can find, all chopped. Today I have put in fresh tomatoes, tomato puree and sun dried tomatoes. Add salt, pepper and of course, sugar. It is the catalyst that allows the tomatoes to dance.
Now then, at this juncture I add my own tomato based vegetable stock which consists of carrots, celery, onion, garlic, tomatoes, tomato puree, salt, pepper, olive oil, oregano, sugar and a splash of red wine vinegar all cooked together in a pan very slowly, until everything is soft. If you haven’t got any of that or can’t be bothered, a vegetable Knorr stock pot will do just as well. I would recommend adding a little oregano though, as it is one of those herbs that suit tomatoes very well.
Then add boiling water and simmer for about 20 minutes.
This next bit is crucial. Turn off the heat and allow to sit for a while. Drink tea, go shopping, write something interesting, go to work, watch the snow fall. Eat the last piece of Christmas cake.
I then hand whisk the whole thing, and, if I’m feeling particularly meticulous, sieve. Although it tastes just as good without sieving, you will be doing those with false teeth a favour if you sieve. Small pieces of tomato skin can be irritating, so I hear. So I guess what I’m saying is consider your age range and sieve, or not, accordingly.
I like to make some small bread rolls to accompany the soup, but am also very at home with hot buttered toast. Either way, something to dip does nothing but enhance the experience. Just before you’re ready to serve, warm up the soup, adding a good splodge of single cream.
Tomato soup. It’s what snowdays were made for.