Too late to make it to the supermarket yesterday I woke to just enough milk for coffee and no bread. Oat porridge, then, with rich, thick soya cream for Sunday breakfast: veganly delicious! StillI I thought I’d better try to make the 2pm deadline for the corner shop for emergency supplies. Little bags of green thingummies in the fridge were figs. Eyeing big, ripe beef tomatoes out of the corner of one eye lunch was sorted
I’m not overly attached to eating things in season. We humans have come a long way in farming since our hunter-gatherer days, and I’m OK with that. Still, I have to admit that things taste best when in season, and figs and beef tomatoes are in season here in Extremadura. As are cherries. Paprika, mercifully, is a condiment for all seasons.
Spanish tomato soup is served with figs and slices of toasted or fried stale bread. I skipped the latter in favour of using up left-over buckwheat risotto in a frittata. Some crisp endives over rocket and a bowl of Jerte cherries rounded off the meal
There many ways to skin a tomato: the most straight-forward is under a hot grill. you want the skin quite charred, but the fruit still firm. Roasting by this method cooks the tomato quite a bit, so no need to sweat them: jump straight to peeling them once they’ve cooled down enough to handle and proceed accordingly
Roasting over a flame or charcoal gives the best flavour. I have a wok-shaped pan full of holes especially for the job. I love it, and wholeheartedly recommend it. Flame roasting requires a period of sweating to cook the fuit and let the charred aromas of the skin penetrate the flesh. !5 minutes is minimum. Longer is better.
The tomatoes as well as the garlic can also be blackened on a hot skillet. You’ll need to stick around to turn them over frequently, though.
If you don’t have all day you can just skip the roasting: plunge your tommies in hot water for 30 seconds, peel them and proceed accordingly. But you will be missing a whole dimension of flavour
Roasted Tomato & Garlic Soup With Figs And Goats' Cheese
- vegetable stock or stock cube
- 2-3 ripe beef or plum tomatoes
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 medium onion
- a splash of olive oil
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 2-3 sprigs thyme
- 3-4 ripe figs
- a knob of butter
- fresh goat's cheese (optional)
- Start your vegetable stock by adding whatever veg you have to hand with a handful of herbs and spices to a pan. Boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain off the solids and keep back the stock
- Meanwhile roast the tomatoes whole or halved if they're very large, and garlic, skin-on in a very hot oven or grill, on a skillet or over a naked flame (see notes above)
- When the garlic and tomato skins are blackened wrap them in a kitchen towel over foil or plastic film and let them sweat for 20-30 minutes
- Slice the onion and soften in a little olive oil with the finely chopped rosemary and the thyme. Adding a little salt stops then over-browning.
- Skin the tomatoes and garlic. Slice the tomatoes thickly and the garlic very thinly. Add them to the onions, along with the paprika and cook for 5-10 minutes or until softened through
- Add the tomatoes and other ingredients to the stock, or vice versa, season with salt and black pepper to taste, bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes
- Top and tail the figs and cut them in 4 or 6, depending on their size, and sautée in a little butter or olive oil to keep the dish vegan
- serve the soup in wide soup bowls topped with sautéed figs. Traditionally some toasted or shallow-fried slices of yesterday's bread are added. I prefer a couple of medallions or soft goats' cheese or a dollop of thick soya cream and a few chopped chives with fresh crusty wholemeal bread on the side