Food for thought

I often bake and cook between edits and drafts of long and short fiction; it helps compost my thoughts and ideas. So here is a recipe of one of my go-to foods which ticks all the boxes: healthy, comforting, and delicious!

Mervyn’s Roast Tomato Soup

With kind permission this recipe has been taken from Warm Bagels & Apple Strudel by Ruth Joseph & Simon Round (Kyle Books, £25)

Serves 4 – 6

  • 1.5kg fresh tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 large onions, cut into rough chunks (skins left on)
  • 1 large red pepper, cut into rough chunks (seeds and white pith removed)
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed but left whole (optional)
  • 1 chilli, split in half and seeds removed (optional)
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • freshly ground salt and black pepper
  • 100g organic short-grain brown rice
  • 25g fresh basil
  • 900ml vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground paprika

Preheat the oven to 190 Celsius/ gas mark 5. Place the tomatoes, onions, red pepper, garlic and chilli in a large roasting tray. Drizzle over the oil, season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, cook the rice according to the instructions on the packet and drain well. (I cook it in the microwave.)

Once the vegetables are cool enough to handle, carefully remove the skin from the onion and squeeze out the roasted flesh from the garlic. Place the onion and garlic flesh in a food-processor, along with the roasted vegetables and basil, and blitz to a coarse paste. Alternatively, chop everything finely by hand. (If you wish you can remove the skins from the tomatoes, but we leave them on for added fibre.) Scoop the vegetable purée into a pan and pour in enough stock to make a soupy consistency. Add the cooked rice and stir over a low heat for 2 -3 minutes until combined. Season to taste with salt, pepper, a teaspoon of sugar and paprika. Serve with thick sourdough toast and fresh hummus on the side.

Variation: For a less spicy soup, omit the chilli and substitute some of the stock for milk or soya milk to give a creamy texture.

With kind permission this recipe has been taken from Warm Bagels & Apple Strudel by Ruth Joseph & Simon Round (Kyle Books, £25)