My new neighbours, in my new street have been standing out the front of their house with boxes and boxes of tomatoes. Comparing prices and quality and talking sauce – bottling tomatoes for the winter. The tomato man at the Victoria markets says tomatoes are all year round, 52 weeks of the year, that when the Victorian tomatoes finish he gets them from the hills of Adelaide. But we don’t eat tomatoes in the winter and my backyard vine is curling and dying, the last fat black and little yellow tomatoes pulled from it over a week ago. Now is the time to take advantage of that tomato bounty, when they’re cheap and taste of sunshine.
Sarah and I haven’t been bottling tomato sauce like my neighbours, but last week we made this clear tomato soup. We made this last Summer too, for a colour themed dinner party, maybe more accurately described as a lack of colour themed dinner party, where everything was clear, or white or pale looking – but vibrant in flavour. This is not a subtle soup and it is surprising. It tastes of the essence of tomato, with the complimentary and summery flavour of basil even though it looks like nothing.
Clear Tomato Soup
This is really just a clear broth that can be eaten cold or slightly warmed. It’s impressive as a starter for a special dinner party. We’ve collated this recipe from a few sources and compared notes. Unfortunately a food processor is essential for this recipe. Otherwise the right consistency is too difficult to achieve. We have also used leftovers of this soup to boost stock or other dishes, it has a really wonderful, concentrated flavour.
3kg ripe but firm tomatoes
1 bunch fresh basil
1tsp icing sugar
1 pinch salt
1 pinch fine white pepper
Roughly chop the basil and tomato. Place a third in a food processor. Add a 1/3 of the icing sugar and pulse only a couple of times. The tomatoes should be chopped well, but still in chunks. The mixture should have white bubbles in it from the aeration and separation of the tomatoes. A little frothy I guess. Set aside the pulsed mixture and repeat until you have used all your tomatoes and basil. Once all your tomatoes are done season to taste with pepper and salt.
Next, over a large bowl secure a clean piece of muslin cloth, which has been doubled over. The easiest way to do this is with a large rubber band. Securing tightly with string can also work, but is a bit clumsy. Place the muslin over the top of the bowl and then stretch the rubber band around the edge.
Carefully ladle the mix onto the muslin. There should be a little dripping through the muslin but don’t press or force the sieving process.
Place the bowl in the fridge for eight hours.
After this time, carefully remove the muslin, bunching it up and around the tomato mixture, being sure not to squeeze the muslin parcel. Be sure not to let the muslin parcel touch the soup. The soup should be clear.
Taste the liquid and if too concentrated add some water, a teaspoon at a time, to taste. Bring the soup to room temperature and serve.
This should make four small bowls of tomato soup.