This soup gets an extra boost of tomato flavour from the initial baking. Use fresh tomatoes only if they are perfectly ripe and flavourful. Otherwise, you’ll be better off using the canned product — just be sure that you remove as many seeds as possible.
3 lbs (1.5 Kg) ripe tomatoes, peeled, quartered, and seeded, or 2 cans (15 oz, 425 g each) whole or chopped tomatoes, drained
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbs (30 ml) olive oil
1 leek, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 cups (1 L) chicken stock
4 oz (110 g) Stilton or other blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup (60 ml) reduced-fat single cream, or milk
Chopped fresh basil for garnish
Place the tomatoes in a baking dish in a single layer, drizzle olive oil over and sprinkle with the garlic. Bake in a preheated 400F (200C) oven for 40 minutes until edges char. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pot over moderate heat and sauté the leek, carrot, salt, and pepper until tender but not brown, in other words let them sweat (the lid on helps this process) for about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Add the Stilton (reserve some as garnishing with basil), cream/milk and purée in batches in an electric hand-blender or food processor.
Reheat the soup if needed and serve garnished with chopped fresh basil and the reserved Stilton. Serves 4 to 6.
If it’s a cold winter evening, pour yourself a small glass of Dry Sack, knock half of it back and the pour the rest into the pot just before serving. Even the cook deserves to be corked once in a while. Skål!