Cosy Tomato Soup

When it comes to tomato soup, I often think you have a tough job beating a good old can of Heinz. However, I recently perfected this little recipe which I think is a bit of a gem – the secret, I reckon, is the addition of sweet, juicy red peppers and a spicy kick to keep it interesting. It’s beautifully simple, and a perfect pick-me-up on a chilly day - because let’s face it, even though it’s June, we’re still getting a few of those…

Four grilled red peppers
A can of plum tomatoes (yellow ones are lovely if you can get them!)
2 cloves of garlic
Very Lazy Chillies
A good splash of sweet chilli sauce
1.5 pints of chicken stock (although vegetable stock will also work, if you’re a vegetarian)
4-5 tablespoons of natural yoghurt
A handful of fresh basil
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Serves 5-6, depending on how hungry you are. Don’t forget you can also freeze it for another day – let it cool, then pop a few ladlefuls into a sandwich bag and tie it up firmly.

Start with your red peppers – I tend to buy them in a jar if I’m feeling lazy, but you can also grill them from fresh (I’ve explained this before, so I’m sorry for repeating myself, but just stick them under the grill, turning frequently, until the skins are thoroughly blackened, then allow them to cool before peeling). Chop the peppers up and pop into a good deep pan with a splash of olive oil, on a medium heat, and get them sizzling while you chop the garlic finely, then add that too, along with half a teaspoon or so of chilli – as I’ve suggested before, Very Lazy Chillies (which come ready-chopped in a jar) are really handy.

Next, open the can of plum tomatoes and chop them up a bit with a pair of scissors, still in the can to avoid mess. Once the peppers and garlic have been frying for ten minutes or so, add the plum tomatoes, juice and all, and season it all with salt, black pepper and a pinch of sugar. Rip up the basil roughly and sprinkle that in. Leave it all to bubble for a moment while you get the stock ready.

Make up your chicken or vegetable stock with boiling water, stir well, and add to the pan, then take it off the heat and blend it with a hand blender (see Kitchen Bits and Bobs for tips on good kitchen equipment) until there aren’t any big pieces of basil left. The soup should turn out a lovely soft orange colour if you’ve managed to get hold of yellow plum tomatoes.

Finally, add a good dollop of sweet chilli sauce and the natural yoghurt, and stir well to incorporate. Taste it and add anything else as needed – if you find it a bit fiery at this point, add a bit more natural yoghurt! Serve it up with some lovely fresh bread and cheese, and you’ll be toasty warm in no time.