June 2011, apparently, has been colder than March. Which means that sometimes though salad seems more seasonal, soup starts to look vaguely attractive. Last night I had it all planned: my friend was coming to stay, I’d got lots of tomatoes and home-grown basil, so I was going to try a roasted tomato soup with basil purée. I just had to decide whether to try Delia’s version or Nigel’s. But then, as the day went on, it got warmer and by the time the tomatoes were in the oven and we were sitting on the terrace drinking too much manzanilla and red wine, the prospect of soup, however summery, seemed all wrong. The purée was made, the stock ready but I couldn’t be bothered to get the blender out. Instead, I roasted some asparagus as well, fried up some chopped up bits of bacon and added that to the asparagus then served them both with grated Parmesan, the purée and some bread. It was perfect, like a plate of substantial and delicious tapas. I’m not sure you can call this a recipe but it’s a great way to make a few ingredients taste like a lot more.
For two you will need
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A couple of cloves of garlic
Olive oil (about 4 tablespoons should be enough)
4 large ripe tomatoes
A handful of basil leaves
A bunch of asparagus (about 200g)
1 teaspoon lemon juice or white wine vinegar
4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
Some nice bread
1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7.
2. Cut the tomatoes in half and peel and finely chop or crush the garlic.
3. Put the tomatoes in a shallow roasting tin cut side up, sprinkle the garlic over the top and pour over a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Season with some salt and pepper then roast for about 30-40 minutes until soft and slightly charred.
4. Whilst the tomatoes are roasting, finish the rest of the prep. Snap off the woody stems of the asparagus and lay the spears in another shallow roasting tin. Pour over a tablespoon of olive oil and leave to one side. Chop or snip up the rashers of bacon and fry until crisp then finely grate the Parmesan.
5. For the basil purée put the basil leaves into a pestle and mortar (or a food processor, or a bowl with a wooden spoon might work too) with a pinch of salt and bash for a bit. The leaves will almost magically reduce to a pulp and, once that happens, stir in some olive oil (the last tablespoonful should do it, give or take a bit), the lemon juice and season to taste.
6. Once the tomatoes have been roasting for about 20-25 minutes, put the asparagus in the oven. After that has been roasting for about 8-10 minutes or so, and is starting to look golden and soften, add the bacon and some of the Parmesan to the asparagus and roast for another few minutes until cooked.
7. Serve the tomatoes with the basil purée and the rest of the Parmesan over the top, plus the asparagus and some bread to soak up the juices.