Roasting tomatoes really brings out their flavour and sweetness and although these ingredients came from our Suffolk garden, the soup is packed full of Mediterranean flavours, a last burst of summer.
For the record, I don't like thickening soups with potato unless the spuds are an intrinsic part of the dish as in Vichysoisse, because I think it muddies the taste. I also prefer to leave the tomato skins and seeds in because I think it adds to the flavour, but as ever, the choice is yours.
You can use shop-bought tapenade for the olive croutons but if you'd like to make your own (and it's dead easy), there's a recipe here.
Roasted Tomato Soup with Olive Croutons (serves 2-4)
Ingredients for the soup:
1 kg fresh red tomatoes
2 fat cloves of garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
About 200ml vegetable stock
10g basil, leaves stripped from stem and chopped
A small splash of balsamic vinegar
For the croutons:
2-3 thick slices of good bread (sourdough is excellent), crusts removed, cubed
1 tbsp tapenade
1 tbsp olive oil
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5.
Mix together the tapenade and a tablespoon of olive oil and toss the bread cubes in the mixture to coat. Set aside.
Halve the tomatoes and place them cut-side up in a large roasting tin. Peel the shallots and cut or split them into 3-4 cm chunks. Tuck them in around the tomatoes and add the unpeeled garlic cloves.
Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper and drizzle with the olive oil.
Roast for around 35-40 minutes, until the onions are soft and the tomatoes just beginning to char a little at the edges.
Then take out the garlic cloves and squeeze the the soft insides back into the pan, discarding the skins. Pour everything into a liquidiser, including the tomato juices, and blitz until smooth.
Scrape into a saucepan and add vegetable stock to loosen the soup to your desired consistency - I used about 200 ml. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and the chopped basil. Reheat gently and check the seasoning. Keep warm while you cook the croutons.
Put the croutons in a single layer on a small baking sheet and pop in the oven for five minutes. Turn them over and give them another five minutes or until they're golden brown - keep an eye on them, they burn easily.
Pour the soup into bowls and scatter the olive croutons on top. Serve immediately before the croutons go soggy.