Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #32: Tomato Soup
This was our 32nd cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. (HA! I just noticed that on the Amazon.com page, it’s actually called “Meals in Minutes” in the USA. I guess they’ve given up on the whole 30 minute aspect over there!) For this one, we chose “Tomato Soup with Chunky Croutons, Crunchy Veg and Guacamole, and Sticky Prune Sponge Puddings.” We actually picked this one simply so we could justify buying a fresh ciabatta loaf and using the excess to make French toast. Lucky for us, it turned out to be one of the best meals in the book! I was on chef’s duty, and I finished this one in a blistering 28:27. (I should clarify for my fellow Americans that “pudding” in this case doesn’t refer to a custard like we tend to think. This is an English “pudding,” which is more like a sweet, steamed cake.)

Tomato Soup

Substitutions: We did half-recipes of the entire meal to avoid leftovers. We used “mini-Roma” tomatoes rather than cherry tomatoes on the vine. We had fresh green beans instead of fennel and left out the breadsticks. Instead of pitted prunes, we had dried ones that we rehydrated in syrup. We used yoghurt instead of creme fraiche. Other than that, everything was as written in the recipe.

Quick verdict: I fully expected this one to boring. I mean, tomato soup? Veggie sticks and dip? Microwave puddings?? And instead it totally blew me away. The soup was way better than anything from a can, and it was very simple to make. The Snook liked that he could taste the flavour of the red chilli without having the heat. The guacamole was so good I went back to the greengrocer to get another avocado to make more today. And the prune puddings were terrific! We both rated it a 9 out of 10. This would be an excellent dinner to make for your vegetarian friends.

Read on for a photo essay of the preparation.Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The oven was turned on to 220C and the food processor was fitted with the standard blade. I had a roasting tray for the tomatoes, another for the bread, and saucepan for the soup. I also got out our immersion blender for liquidizing the soup.

First up are the ingredients for the soup: cherry tomatoes, large tomatoes, red chilli, garlic, ciabatta loaf, red onion, balsamic vinegar, and fresh basil.

Soup ingredients

Next are the bits for the guacamole platter: cherry tomatoes, red chilli, fresh coriander, avocado, lime, carrot, cucumber, and green beans.

Ingredients for guac platter

Finally we have the dessert ingredients: pitted prunes, flour, brown sugar, unsalted butter, ground ginger, baking soda, egg, and milk. (The honey is to serve.)

Dessert ingredients

Pots and pans, ready to go! The two baking trays are for the tomatoes and the croutons. The cups are for the puddings. The saucepan is for the soup.

Pots and pans

The food processor had the standard blade attachment. We also used the immersion blender for the soup.

Machinery

And I’m off! The first step was to prep the tomatoes. I cleaned all the cherry tomatoes and dumped them on the baking tray. Then I sliced the large tomatoes into wedges.

Prepping tomatoes

I then drizzled them with olive oil.

Oiling tomatoes

I also chopped up some red chilli and added that to the tray, along with a few smashed garlic cloves.

Chopping chilli

Lastly, I seasoned everything with salt and pepper and put the tray into the oven to roast.

Seasoning tomatoes

To prepare the croutons, I simply ripped the bread into hunks and drizzled each with olive oil. I seasoned them with salt and pepper and then put them into the oven as well.

Prepping croutons

Now to start the other components of the soup. I began by chopping up some red onion.

Chopping onion

The onion went into the hot saucepan along with olive oil and salt.

Cooking the onions

While the onions cooked, I started prepping the puddings. I divided the prunes into each cup and added some of the syrup as well.

Prunes

Back to the soup. It was time to add the balsamic vinegar.

Adding vinegar

Back to the puddings. (Lots of multi-tasking in this one!) I measured out the flour, sugar, butter, ground ginger, and baking soda into the food processor.

Measuring pudding ingredients

Then I whizzed it up!

Whizzing it up

While it was whizzing, I added the egg and milk. (I only needed half an egg, so I beat one first in a cup.)

Beating egg

I ran back over to give my onions a stir. The balsamic vinegar was caramelizing nicely.

Caramelizing onions

Next I spooned the pudding batter into each cup. It wasn’t as stiff as I was expecting! These cups then got set aside until the end.

Adding pudding batter

Now for the guacamole. I started by chopping up a few cherry tomatoes.

Chopping tomatoes

I also added some finely chopped (and deseeded) red chilli.

Chopping chilli

I next chopped up and added a big handful of coriander leaves and stalks. (I like coriander.)

Adding coriander

Then I halved the avocado and scooped out the flesh.

Avocado

Then I just chopped everything together on the board, Jamie-style. This was kind of messy, I’ll admit, but it sure looks impressive. I finished the guac with some salt and lime juice.

Chopping it all together

For the veg, I peeled a carrot and chopped it into sticks. I also chopped up a cucumber and topped-and-tailed some green beans.

Cleaning veg

And here’s the finished guacamole platter!

Guacamole platter

My tomatoes were done roasting, so I added them to the saucepan and mixed everything together.

Roasted tomatoes

I also tore in some fresh basil…

Adding basil

…before liquidizing it to “a fairly rustic consistency” as directed. (Immersion blenders are awesome.)

Liquidizing

My croutons were well and truly toasted by now, so I added them to the serving bowls.

Croutons

Then I ladled soup into each bowl to cover the croutons.

Soup

I started to garnish the soup with yoghurt but realised quickly that the version we bought was sweetened! So I scooped it out and made do with just some bits of sliced basil.

Finished soup

Here’s the finished meal of tomato soup with chunky croutons and crunchy veg with guacamole.

Finished meal

To finish the desserts, I simply zapped them in the microwave for a few minutes. This is how they looked when they came out.

Cooked puddings

I used a spoon to flip each pudding over in the cup to reveal the fruit. Then I topped each one with yoghurt and honey. YUM!

Finished dessert

Tasting notes: The tomato soup was more complex than I expected, and it’s definitely a step up from your normal canned soup. The chunkier consistency also made it feel more filling. The croutons were another way of adding bulk without much work. The guacamole was simple but very tasty, and I plan on using that recipe again. (It even had me eating raw carrots, and I hate raw carrots.) The Snook had been worried that the ground ginger would overwhelm the pudding, but he was happy to find instead that it was quite well-balanced. It wasn’t that “sticky,” but that may be because we didn’t use the tinned prunes. This method of making microwave puddings surprised me with how well it worked. Definitely a fun trick to show off for your guests! We both loved this meal and rated it 9 out of 10. Definitely one to repeat, especially if you have a bumper crop of tomatoes to use up.

Stay tuned for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!

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