When I’m feeling poorly I always long for the foods of my childhood. Suddenly the familiar holds a much stronger appeal; there’s deep comfort to be found in the things we’ve loved the longest, and that applies tenfold to food.
My shortlist is an assortment of my mum’s home-cooked Indian food, typical English school-dinner comfort stodge and big brand ready-made favourites. A good example of the latter is a steaming hot bowl of Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup with buttered slices of pappy processed white bread.
But surely a home-made version, made from home-grown tomatoes and served with home-baked bread (and really good butter), would be even better?
Having grown our own tomatoes for many years, I set Pete the challenge of creating a soup in the Heinz style, but made with a shorter, simpler set of ingredients. Heinz’ soup contains modified corn flour, dried skimmed milk, milk proteins… nothing particularly scary but not ingredients we’d use at home either.
To my delight, Pete nailed his home-made version on the first try! He completely failed to write down the recipe back then, but when he made it again recently (with the last frozen batch of last year’s tomatoes), I insisted he keep a record.
His delicious soup consisted of tomatoes, onions, fresh cream, home-made chicken stock and seasoning. That’s it.
I have never been a huge soup lover, usually preferring something more solid. And it’s rare I lose my appetite, even when poorly. But occasionally I yearn for a light meal, something simple, something tasty and fresh, something comfortingly familiar, something warming that soothes a sore throat as well as a fractious soul…
For those occasions, I can thoroughly recommend Pete’s Home-made Cream of Tomato Soup.
Pete’s Home-made Cream of Tomato Soup
1 medium onion, finely diced
600 grams whole tomatoes
800 ml chicken stock
100 ml double cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
Vegetable oil, for cooking
Heat a little oil in a pan and fry the onion until golden.
Add the tomatoes, peeled if you have the patience and fry until they break down.
Add the chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer for about an hour to reduce.
Allow to cool.
Blitz in a blender or food processor and sieve to remove seeds and skin.
Warm through again on a gentle heat, stir in cream and continue to warm until piping hot.
Taste, season and serve with fresh bread and butter.
What are the foods you long for when you’re feeling poorly or sad? Do you turn to childhood favourites too?