Every now and then, if it is raining so we cannot get out in the garden and Long Suffering Wife has exhausted her list of things that need doing round the house, I get the urge to be creative and cook something. More specifically, I feel the need to make a batch of soup, an endeavour tolerated by L.S.W. with various caveats - that I must not use the wotzit pan, use too much butter or put in too much salt, among others.
This recipe obviously came out of a book or magazine at some point but I have forgotten the source and indeed all the quantities and probably some of the ingredients, but this works. And it is delicious.
All you need is a very large, sharp knife, a chopping board, a pan and the ingredients. Making this soup allows endless scope for chopping stuff up into small pieces with a swift machine gun like rat-tat tat of the knife like all the more macho TV chefs do. Preparing all the vegetables is immensely satisfying and can be quite cathartic.
A word about quantities: aim to fill the pan about three quarters of the way to the top and use roughly equal amounts of everything apart from the tomatoes. Every time I make this soup it is different as the quantities vary, but it always tastes good.
Start by melting some butter on a very low heat while you chop up some onions. Sauté these until they are soft while you chop up some celery. Stir in the chopped celery so it is coated in the butter and do the same for a chopped cooking apple and lots and lots of tomatoes. Nothing needs to be peeled.
Now add a glass of good dry sherry, a pinch of ginger and a grating of nutmeg and black pepper. Give it a good stir and leave it to cook very slowly in the juices that will come out of the tomato. I like to cover the top of the vegetables with greaseproof paper before putting the lid on the pan.
Now go away and do something else for forty minutes, or an hour… it doesn’t come to much harm if it is neglected for a while. Eventually you will need to add some stock, which can be chicken stock or a vegetable stock using a bouillon powder. Next you will need one of those machines that whiz everything together into a thick liquid. Add salt at this point to your taste and out of view of the salt police. Finally the liquid needs to be pushed through a large sieve using the back of a ladle and all the bits of stringy celery, tomato pips and apple stalks discarded, leaving behind a smooth, very distinctive and piquant tomato soup.
“Can I have my kitchen back now?” Long suffering Wife will say, surveying the scene of my labours “I hope you were not going to leave it like this!”