ROASTED RED PEPPER AND TOMATO SOUP

     This soup looks deceptively like Heinz tomato soup from a can. It’s blessedly simple to make, no chopping or frying, just roast tomatoes, red peppers and small red onions, the latter two peeled, then everything liquidized with stock. I tend to use chicken stock for vegetable soups (a cube is fine) but vegetable stock will also give good results. The soup is thick and fluffy, creamy and almost entirely fat free, so a wonderfully satisfying healthy bowlful. The flavour could be tweaked by adding fresh orange juice, a splash of Tabasco or by simmering the soup with a cinnamon stick.

Serves 4

6 tomatoes

1 tbsp olive oil

4 small red onions

6 long red Romano peppers

600ml chicken or vegetable stock

1 tsp runny honey and squeeze lemon, optional

     Heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Halve the tomatoes round their middles, lay out, cut-side up, on a foil-lined, shallow roasting tin. Paint with a hint of oil. Place the onions at the outer edges. Place the tray on a lower shelf without waiting for the oven to come up to temperature. Arrange the peppers on a second, small foil-lined shallow roasting tin and when the oven comes up to temperature, place on the top shelf. Roast for 15 minutes, by which time the pepper skin will begin to puff, turn the peppers and cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the skin is scorched and the flesh looks juicy. Use tongs to transfer to a plate and cover with a stretch of clingfilm. Reduce the oven to 150C/gas mark 2. Leave for 15 minutes, then rip off the skins, halve lengthways and swipe out the stalk and seeds. Check the tomatoes and onions; you want the toms soft and juicy, the onions very soft. Snip the skin off the onions – scissors are useful for this and use a fork to extract the soft, silky flesh. Place in food processor with the tomatoes and peppers and any juices. Add hot stock and liquidize for several minutes until smooth and fluffy. Pass through a sieve to catch tomato pips and core and any stray pepper seeds. Scrape under the sieve so nothing is wasted. Reheat and season to taste with salt, pepper, honey and lemon.