Tuesday, July 26, 2011

tomato and roasted pepper soup with tomato and basil focaccia

Since the summer in Holland is dreadful I needed something to cheer me up! We have had this autumn like weather for weeks now. The only way to let the sun shine is on your plate...and this tomato soup does the trick for me. Combined with the focaccia (which makes your house smell amazing) it gives you the exact amount of comfort without making it to autumn-y.  

Tomato and roasted pepper soup

2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 kilo pomodori tomatoes
1 kilo red bell peppers
1-2 red chillies, deseeded
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
600 ml vegetable stock
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat your oven and grill to 300oC.
Half you peppers lengthwise and deseed them. Place onto a baking sheet covered with baking paper.
Place the sheet into the oven and grill for about 15 minutes, or until the skins have become black and blistered. Now place the peppers into a bowl and cover with cling film.
While the peppers are cooling down score in the back of the tomatoes and blanch them for about 20 seconds in boiling water. Now you should be able to take the skins of easily.
Roughly chop the tomatoes and set aside.
Peel the peppers and slice them up into 2 cm squares.
Finely chop the chillies and garlic.
Place a heavy bottomed pan onto the stove and pour in the olive oil.
Put in the garlic and chillies and fry for about a minute. Now add the peppers and tomato paste. Place a lid onto the pan and let simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and let it simmer for another 15 minutes.
You can make it a little more smooth using a hand-held-blender, or just leave it the way it is.
If you like drizzle in some good quality thick and syrupy balsamic vinegar or some basil oil to add an extra dimension, but it is already good as it is...

Tomato and basil focaccia
15 gram fresh yeast or 10 gram dried yeast
15 gram honey
3 dl lukewarm water
400 gram spelt flour
100 gram fine ground corn flour or polenta
15 gram sea salt
Extra flour and polenta for dusting
4 to 6 tbsp basil oil
About a handful cherry tomatoes

Dissolve the yeast and honey in halve of the water.
Heap up the flour, polenta and salt and make a well in the middle.
Pour in the yeast mixture and mix in using one hand until everything is incorporated.
Now mix in the remaining water until everything is incorporated and you end up with smooth dough.
Now the kneading begins! Knead the dough for about five minutes.
Dust your workface with polenta and shape the dough into a ball and place it on a baking sheet.
Score the dough with a sharp knife, so can relax and rise faster.
This is the first time you will let the dough rise and it should double in volume. To maximise this effect you can cover the baking sheet with cling film that you have brushed with a little olive oil to prevent sticking. Place it in a warm and draft-free area. I prefer the warming compartment of the oven.
The dough will need to rise 40 to 90 minutes until it has doubled in volume.
When the dough is ready, beat and knead out all the air for about a minute.
Now it is time to grab your rolling pin and roll the dough out into a 1 ½ cm thick piece. Transfer the dough onto the baking sheet.
Spread the basil oil onto the dough. ‘Dimple’ the dough with your fingertips, making sure you don’t press all the way to the bottom. You can put your tomatoes whole or halved into these ‘dimples’.
Cover with a clean tea towel and let it rise for another 45 minutes or until it has doubled in volume.
Preheat your oven to 250oC.
Place the baking tray carefully into the oven and bake the focaccia during 15 to 20 minutes golden and brown.
*When you like your focaccia a little moister, just add about 4 to 6 tablespoons of olive oil to the last batch of water.

Basil oil
A good two hands full of basil leaves
8 tablespoons of olive oil
A pinch of salt
Crush your basil leaves with a sprinkle of salt in the pestle and mortar or in a food processor.
I prefer to do it in a p&m because it gives a more fragrant result.
Add the oil and combine to a nice and fragrant basil oil.