Finally. A day to stop, to sit, to ponder and to write. It has taken a couple of weeks but we’re getting there. Finding our feet in a new routine. Easter was a lovely little hiatus in the middle of it all. Four days pottering around home. We played catch up in the garden. Pulled out tomato and cucumber vines. Dug up potatoes. Picked the first of our second crop of beans. I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled on a pumpkin vine beginning to fruit. I didn’t think any of them had taken this year. We weeded. Composted. Fertilised. Prepared the beds for transplanting seedlings and planted more seeds of the winter veggies to come. An hour here and an hour there and it is amazing what can be accomplished.
I still feel the list of outdoor jobs to be endless. The garden waits for nobody. Our lemongrass and chilli plants are 3 feet high and in desperate need of a prune. As do our curry plant and thyme which are looking a little sad. One of our tumeric plants has died down. Time to dig it up and see what hides below. Fingers crossed I find something more than pinky sized this year. If I do I’ll definitely be making another pot of tea.
I wish I could say I made this soup with home grown produce. But when in short supply, market produce does suffice. Perhaps in a month or so. We have a few tomato vines that have sprouted up in former patches. Though our mornings and nights are cooler, our warm days might just be enough to produce a final flourish of fruit. Or perhaps that is wishful thinking. Time will tell.
This soup is definitely on the lighter side. Great as an entree or as a simple mid-week supper. To a humble bowl of soup. May it satisfy and warm you in the cool of an autumn evening.
Have you got a favourite autumn soup?
Roasted Balsamic Tomato Soup with Herby Polenta Croutons
For the Croutons
1L vegetable stock
1 tbsp rosemary – finely chopped
1 tbsp of sage – finely chopped
For the Soup
1 kilo of tomatoes – chopped into quarters
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Large handful of basil leaves – roughly chopped
1 head of garlic
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp allspice
1L of vegetable stock
1. Start with the polenta. In a large pot, bring the veggie stock to a boil.
2. Add the polenta and herbs, reduce the heat to low and stir fairly constantly for 10 minutes. It will pop and splatter quite a lot so be careful – hence the large pot. The polenta is cooked when the consistency is smooth rather than grainy.
3. Line a 20 x 30cm baking tray with baking paper. Pour the polenta into the tray and level out with a spatula. Pop in the fridge for an hour to set. This can be done a day in advance.
5. For the soup. Line a large baking tray with baking paper and preheat the oven to 180ºC.
6. Add the tomatoes and drizzle over the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil leaves, salt and pepper. Mix well, then position tomatoes skin side down.
7. Chop the top off the garlic and nuzzle it in among the tomatoes. Place in the oven for 45 minutes. The tomatoes are ready when they are soft, wrinkly and a little charred around the edges.
Take a breather for half an hour while the tomatoes roast and the polenta sets.
8. Ten minutes before the tomatoes are due out of the oven, bring the second litre of veggie stock to the boil.
9. Remove the polenta from the baking paper onto a chopping board. Chop half of it into 1cm cubes. (Save the other half for another time.) Return cubed polenta to the baking tray, spreading out the cubes so that they don’t touch. Bake for 20 minutes until slightly browned.
10. Meanwhile, add the tomatoes, 3 de-skinned garlic cloves, veggie stock, paprika & allspice to a blender and blend until smooth, or until desired consistency is reached.
11. Serve in cosy bowls, topped with fresh basil and a plate of croutons in the middle of the table to share
1. This is quite a thin soup. If you prefer things a little thicker, only add 500ml of veggie stock to the tomatoes.
2. If you enjoy soup a little on the richer side. Add a rind of parmesan to the veggie stock for the soup and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove before blending.
3. A great way to use the left over polenta is to pan fry it and use it as a side to a veggie hash pan or fried eggs