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Hey Mon? Tell Tom to turn that shit down. Wow, that sounds grating.

On the plus side, I do like not suffering constant sinus pain. I didn't even realise I had sinuses until I was about thirty. Then they let me know they were there and that I really, really ought to stop smoking. Thanks, excruciating head cavities.

Anyway, many things are horrible and other things are not and I just can't be bothered to elaborate right now as I am bored and slightly drunk. Bodysnatchers scenario in the garden has now morphed into Attack of the Killer Tomatoes do you like tomatoes I hope you like tomatoes I hope you like tomato soup and tomato sauce and tomatoes tomatoes tomatoes because holy shit tomatoes have gone insane.

I was told Moneymaker tomatoes were a good cropper, especially for beginners, but I was not prepared for just how mental these things went. I grew them from tiny baby seeds and cooed over them when they were cute little bi-leaved seedlings. And then before I knew it they were over five feet tall and difficult, lolling, complaining and busting out more fruit than the stems could reasonably support.

The other day I picked about two pounds of the fucking things, taking care to remove all the red fruits. Half an hour later I went outside to pick some fresh basil and I could have sworn that in the interim at least ten more tomatoes had ripened. The gardening books were right about the size of the crop - unfortunately they were also right about the flavour. Moneymakers are not very tasty eating tomatoes. If you want the kind of sweet salad tomatoes you can eat raw then you're better off with one of those delicious baby plum varieties or the sweet yellow fancies, because at large sizes Moneymakers are mealy, pappy and just not that good in a sandwich.

However, Moneymakers (and Alicantes) make superior quality cooking tomatoes. They spaff out huge amounts of large fruits, which is precisely what you want when you're looking to cram your freezer with passata and soup. The alternative is sneaking round your friends' houses at night and pushing bags of tomatoes through the catflap in the hope that they won't give them back. This method never wins you any friends and everyone ends up heartily sick of tomatoes.

So. Soup. It was just about the best tomato soup I'd ever eaten in my life, even if I do say so myself.

1 1/2-2lbs of ripe tomatoes
1 large red onion
3-4 cloves of garlic
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
fresh basil
vegetable stock
tomato puree
salt, sugar, fresh ground black pepper

1. Skin the tomatoes by pricking the skin and dropping them into boiling (not just hot, boiling) water until the skin begins to peel. Then grab a slotted spoon, yank them out and denude the little shits. You can leave the skins on if you like because we're going to putting the lot through a sieve when we're finished, but tomato skin is ubiquitous stuff, as anyone who's fond of anal sex will tell you.

Take out the calyx and pithy part of the tomatoes with a fruit knife. General rule of thumb is that if it's more white than red then get rid of it.

2. Now roughly chop your onion and garlic. Fry in the bottom of a large saucepan until the onion begins to soften and then deglaze the pan with a splash of balsamic vinegar. I know Modena vinegar has become kind of a byword for yuppie fuckery in cookery but when it comes to tomatoes balsamic is utter fucking magic. There are few things that bring out the sweetness of good tomatoes than a dash of balsamic.

3. Toss in the peeled and chopped tomatoes and add 3/4 of a pint to 1 pint of vegetable stock. Simmer with lid on for ten minutes then remove the lid, fire up the gas and cook the fuck out of it for a further five minutes to concentrate the flavour. Turn off the gas and allow to cool slightly.

4. Now stick the stuff through a blender. Puree and then push through a sieve. Return to the saucepan ready to reheat.

5. Season with cracked black pepper and salt - not too much. I use rock salt (kosher salt, for those of a Leftpondian persuasion) in a grinder and one or two screws is usually enough for me. (Shut up.) Go easy with the sugar too. Just a spoonful of sugar will help the medicine go down cut the acidity of the tomatoes, but go as crazy with your fresh chopped basil as you like.

Basil was made for tomatoes, but do wait until the end to add it. If you can possibly help it, don't add the basil until you reheat the soup for serving. Basil is a delicious herb but so, so delicate - it's only too easy to cook the shit out of it and so do it a disservice. Always add it as far towards the end of cooking as you can, if possible.

Oh, and it's about this time that you can be a dirty, sneaky cheat and add in about a dessert-spoon's worth of concentrated tomato puree, if you like.

6. Freeze or eat now. Works very well with a swirl of sour cream and garlic croutons.


( 2 monkey screeches — Screech at me )
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 27th, 2011 09:17 pm (UTC)
Sorry. This is why I should never drink and blog.
Aug. 28th, 2011 12:55 pm (UTC)
I beg to differ :)
( 2 monkey screeches — Screech at me )