I think we may have a winner! I talked earlier this month about my contributions for this month’s The Cookbook Guru and trying to decide which of my cookbooks on my shortlist should be my official nomination for next year’s list. Well I’ve been spending the past week or so flicking through pages, browsing and practically drooling my way through recipes in search of my nominated book. I’ve settled on something that is heading back into the traditional vein of earlier months this year, to a book I believe is worthy of our attention, and can bring some wonderful cooking experiences to everyone. My nomination officially is for Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book. I’ve selected this over the fruit book as I see it having greater flexibility for us all in terms of seasons and dietary restrictions. Most of all though, I’ve selected it because I want to expand my vegetable repertoire, and learn some new ways of cooking the old trusty favourites.
Grigson’s Vegetable book is a wonderful treasure trove of information about the history of the vegetable and its heritage or introduction into the UK diets. It draw’s on recipes from a broad source of nationalities and whilst it has a fairly strong European bent there is some absolute gems in there that I’m sure will spur on everyone’s imagination and taste buds. I love reading Grigson’s work. Her style of writing is joyful to read, informative and anecdotal. I find myself needing no pictures to illustrate the recipes as her descriptions are more than enough to inspire me to cook. I have to say that as much as I’m loving this book and can’t wait for us to explore it I’m sure that Grigson’s Fruit Book will end up on our list at some point too given its equally valuable recipes and wonderful reading style.
First up I couldn’t go past this creamy tomato soup. I grew up having Heinz Tomato Soup with cheese toasties frequently over winter and I couldn’t think of anything better than trying to make a natural homemade version. I know we’re out of tomato season here in Australia, but I couldn’t wait until later on this year to give this a go, so I’ve gotten the best tomatoes I could find in the circumstances. This is definitely a soup to create in the late Summer/Autumn days, particularly if you grow your own tomatoes and find yourself with a glut.
As for the recipe itself, the soup was easy to make, although I did find I needed to sieve the base mixture after pureeing it, to remove the seeds and skins from the soup to create a truly smooth texture. The flavour was gorgeous and I can only imagine just how spectacular that it would be with freshly picked, home-grown tomatoes that are allowed to ripen properly on the vine. Heinz has nothing on Grigson as far as I’m concerned.
For serving, as Grigson mentions in her book, basil would honestly be the ideal accompaniment, and perhaps a beautiful glass of rosé (my contribution). The cream makes the texture and flavour lush, but for a vegan or dairy free version I think this recipe would be equally as spectacular with vegetable stock and no cream added.
I can’t wait to uncover more gems from this book, I doubt I’ll be waiting for next year to do it though, as I’m just a little bit too excited about all the deliciousness within. For now though I hope you enjoy discovering this beautiful Cream of Tomato Soup.
Cream of Tomato Soup
from Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book
- 1/2 kg ripe tomatoes
- 100g chopped onion
- 125g chopped young carrot
- Bouquet garni
- 1L chicken stock
- Salt and cracked black pepper for seasoning
- 300ml single pouring cream
- Chopped chives or basil leaves
Simmer the vegetables and bouquet with 900ml of the stock until they are tender.
Remove the bouquet and puree the soup in a blender and then sieve to remove the seeds and tomato skins that may remain.
Taste, add seasoning and remaining stock. If it is to be served cold, stir in the cream and chill. If to be served hot, bring the cream to the boil in a clean pan and add the soup gradually. In both cases serve scattered with chives or better still with fresh basil.
If you like a spicy flavour for a change, add nutmeg to the soup as it cooks and sprinkle a little on top when it is served.
Shared With Love,