Kitchen kit part 2: My favourite soup (and a great giveaway)
Our tomato harvest is the best ever this year. Just before I left the UK in early September, my bargain hunting Mother took me to the local garden centre where they’d reduced all their packets of seeds to just 50 pence each (3 AED). I brought back packets and packets. Our favourite have been the very nobbly ones that remind me of ones I ate in Spain (20 years ag0) – they knocked the spots off the perfect round tasteless spheres from Holland. We’ve had to start picking them early and leaving them to ripen on an outside table as the birds are attacking them with a vengeance. This seems to work better than using plastic snakes like the dxb gardener.
Our bounty is still quality rather than quantity (unlike boozychef’s haul) but luckily local tomatoes in the supermarket are now red and ripe and I had an urgent craving for my very favourite soup. I think that you crave things for a reason and should indulge (although if it’s for chocolate you should go for a brisk walk to get the happy hormones flowing) and maybe I needed some vitamin C or just a chilli fix. To get soup just the right texture a stick blender is a brilliant piece of kitchen kit. I bought my Braun Fusion at least 14 years ago in Saudi Arabia and it’s still going strong. It has earned its place in my kitchen for making smoothies and blending soups alone.
So when the Braun people sent me a Multiquick Cordless I was happy to try it out as I’d had such a good experience with my old one. I whizzed up the finished soup in a few seconds (you can use directly in the pan and rinse under the tap afterwards). This new model is cordless and recharges on a neat little unit – molto conveniente. It has a locking button (a safety precaution I appreciate – those blades are sharp). There’s a jug for chopping plus an ice crushing attachment – both useful for small amounts. I tried it for chopping basil too (surprisingly good). My teens have used it constantly for smoothies since it arrived.
Braun Multi-quick giveaway
The good news is that Braun are giving one away for you too. If you live in the United Arab Emirates you can win one (sorry if you are outside this area). To enter just write a comment on this page about why you’d like to win a Multiquick Cordless. You can increase your entries by additionally sharing the link to this post on Twitter (be sure to mention @sally2hats in the tweet so I know) and by commenting on My Custard Pie Facebook page. I’ll pick one at random on Tuesday 26th April 2011 so you’ve got two weeks to enter.
So to my favourite soup; it’s from Jamie Oliver’s very first book The Naked Chef. There is something about the slightly sweet, spicy layers of taste that make me want to eat bowl after bowl. I used the last of the purple basil from my garden to drizzle and ate with a hunk of Nigella’s brown loaf (use 200g each of rye flour, wholemeal and strong white bread flour and a bit more water – plain, not potato). KP took a container to work and sent me an e-mail entitled ‘Verdict on the soup’ – message ‘scrummy yummy!
Note about the recipe: Jamie says to deseed the tomatoes after peeling them (the easiest way to do this is to cut in half horizontally and gently squeeze over the sink). I didn’t bother this time and it didn’t seem to make any difference. I used the Braun jug and chopper to cut them up which saved time. Be careful with the chillies – 1 tablespoon of fierce red chillies would make this searingly hot. I used one small hot one and one larger milder one.
Fresh tomato and sweet chilli pepper soup with smashed basil – adapted slightly from The Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver
15 ripe plum tomatoes
3 medium red peppers (capsicum)
approximately 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh seeded red chilli
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or to taste
600 ml chicken or vegetable stock (I used Swiss Marigold vegetable bouillon)
2 good handfuls of fresh basil leaves (I used purple basil)
Score the tops of the tomatoes, blanch in boiling water for about 20 seconds or a little longer and remove the skins. Grill the peppers until blackened all over (I perch each one on top of a gas burner and turn carefully with tongs). Rest in a covered bowl until they are just cool enough to handle. Hold the stalk and, with a knife, scrape the blackened skin downwards to remove. You won’t get every tiny bit off but please do not be tempted to rinse them. Remove the core (I use my usual method) and roughly chop the peppers finely (a few bursts in the Braun jug was perfect for this).
Put the chopped peppers in a warmed, thick-bottomed pan with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and the chopped red chilli. Add a pinch of salt and cook slowly for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes. Then add the roughly chopped tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes with another pinch of salt and the red wine vinegar so that they start to soften and combine. Add the hot stock and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste and use a stick blender in bursts to puree slightly (leave some small chunks – you don’t want it completely smooth) .
In a mortar and pestle (or a food processor – I used the Braun jug) smash the basil to a pulp with a pinch of salt. Stir the remaining olive oil and a drop more red wine vinegar. Serve the soup with the basil mixture drizzled generously over the top. This makes an excellent first course or a nice lunch alongside a toasted cheese sandwich.
Loved hearing about your favourite items in the kitchen last time – really appreciate the comments. Is there any bit of kit you’d never have in your kitchen?