Scarlet soup

16 May

The family was coming to my house for Christmas for a change. I love planning food for parties and guests, and had dreamed up an irresistibly delicious menu for Christmas Day. My mother’s menu never varied for 35 years, and as she was a great cook, it was always a treat, but now I was in charge of the kitchen, I wanted to find at least one variation. A starter was in itself a family innovation, but I wanted something simple to make and simple to eat. The rest of the Christmas lunch was going to be rich and indulgent, and mostly brown; so I wanted something pretty, fresh and tangy, and something that took only minutes to make.

Soup was the answer, and what I produced for them went down with inarticulate cries of delight, every scarlet atom scraped from the bowls in record time. What had I concocted? Lobster bisque? Moroccan rose petal broth? Hardly. It was cheapest, quickest, simplest soup possible, which works as a dinner party starter or a summer lunch

Here’s the recipe, if you can call it that. Ten minutes from tin to table. This makes a good amount for a light lunch – serve with crusty bread, and if you’re hungry, a chunky green salad to follow.

1 tin of tomatoes per person

juice of half a lemon per person

pinch of salt

freshly ground black pepper and a leaf or two of fresh basil to serve

Empty tins into saucepan; heat the tomatoes gently until steaming but not boiling. Squeeze the lemon juice into the pan, and whizz the soup with a hand blender till the tomatoes are lump-free.

Pour into bowls, drop a basil leaf in the middle and grind a good screw of black pepper over the top. Serve immediately with warm crusty bread.

Watch it vanish.

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