Last night’s post-yoga supper was absolutely Proustian. Is that the right turn of phrase? As I stirred and heated the orangey-red tomato soup, inhaled the gentle smells of woody marjoram and green basil, watched the golden flecks of olive oil dance on the surface, I was taken right back to the afternoon mum and I made this to use the last of the tomatoes from dad’s garden.
My creaky memory recalls nothing more than a little oil, some quickly chopped sweet red onion cooked gently til translucent (which produces such a seductive smell you are almost tempted to end the cooking there and just eat the onions). Then the tomatoes – scalded and skins removed (a bearable job when two of you are at the sink), cut into rough chunks, and added to the pot. Simmered down and only slightly whizzed up with mum’s hand wand whizzer thingy. There were still plenty of chunks there to remind you that this was homemade, from real tomato chunks.
In the final moments, the herbs swirled thru. The debate then about basil: mum is adamant basil loses its flavour once cooked, and she was against me using her precious bounty into the soup. But I’m glad I won out, because the aniseedy aroma that wafted up last night was magical.
Tomato soup – homemade tomato soup – is light but deep with sunshiny flavours. It’s a beautiful thing to pull out of the freezer on a cool autumn night. Indeed, I would say tomato soup is wasted in summer, when tomatoes are better enjoyed fresh and raw and juicy in salads or on toast (or just as they are).
All I needed with my bowl of yum memories was toast. Hot buttered toast. I defer anyone to eat a bowl of tomato soup without a plate of buttered toast soldiers. I love something hefty, grainy to chew on, to contrast with the slurpiness of soup (Bergen’s pumpkin seed bread is my chosen vice, so I can nibble, mouse-like, on each individual pumpkin seed).
It’s funny that the other memories this meal evoked where from my childhood, when cold wet days might mean a tin of tomato soup – and the buttered toast. For some reason, I think milk was added. I loved the thick, bright red, perfectly smooth stuff. This was before dad grew his own tomatoes, and before I would know any better. But now I do.