This roast tomato soup is adapted from one Donal Skehan wrote for Kitchen Hero (I still think of kitchen utensils in capes every time I see this book), adapted mainly because I didn’t have several of the ingredients. For those who look at the original, I substituted the tomato puree for red wine, I have no shame. It’s a great soup for warming you up or having as a sumptuous lunch. It would also be delicious chilled in the summer. Top with a swirl of cream and some cracked black pepper, if you’re feeling fancy. Oh – and of course there’s no sugar in it to compensate for other flavours.
Turn your oven on to 200ºC and line a tray with tinfoil. Slice your tomatoes in half and lay them, cut side up, on the tray. Peel your garlic and scatter the cloves amongst the tomato halves (any ridiculously large cloves, slice them root-to-tip). Drizzle half of your oil over the tomatoes, then drizzle over the balsamic vinegar. Season with salt, pepper and the leaves from your thyme sprigs. Place in the centre of the oven and roast for 40-50 minutes, or until they are delightfully disintegrating, and lightly caramelised.
Whilst the tomatoes are roasting, slice your onion into fine strips – root to tip, not side to side – and dice your celery and carrot as finely as you can. In a large heavy-based saucepan put the second half of the oil and apply the heat. Put the onion, carrots and celery in the pan together on a high heat, cover and let it cook for a minute; turn the heat to medium and cook for a further 6 minutes.
Once the initial cooking has happened, remove the lid and pour in the red wine. Stand back and let the steam dissipate. Let it gently simmer to burn off the alcohol. Once the wine has reduced by half pour in your stock, bring to a gentle simmer if your tomatoes are ready, turn off the heat if not.
Take your cooked garlic and crush it into the soup (I do this between two tablespoons stacked on each other, but a garlic press will also work). Using one of these spoons, squish the tomatoes down – this is immensely satisfying – and then add them into the pan along with the juices. Bring to a simmer and let it bubble away until the chunks of carrots are fully cooked (depending how small they are this will take 15-25 minutes).
Once fully cooked remove from the heat and use a stick blender (or food processor) to blitz it smooth. Add in a little squeeze of lemon juice, then season to taste. Serve immediately with a swirl of cream and some cracked black pepper on top. It will go really well with soda bread.