23 October 2012

One for Halloween & Bonfire Night - Cream of Tomato Soup with Bacon & Cheese Muffins

Now this is just perfect food for watching fireworks, or for cold and hungry Trick or Treaters (assuming they aren't stuffed to the gills with sugar, that is!).

I didn't set out to make a Halloween or Bonfire Night
meal, I just liked the recipe for the Creamy Tomato Soup and had a sudden brainwave that my Bacon & Cheese Muffins would go really well with it.  I wasn't wrong either.

I found the recipe for the soup in the BBC Good Food Magazine and liked the sound of it immediately.  I can't seem to find the same recipe online - so you've got it reproduced below, albeit with the numbers scaled down a bit, just in case you want to try it too.

The recipe really couldn't be easier - it all happens in the one pot, with a little bit of blender action from a hand blender.  The soup also keeps happily in the fridge, as I was eating leftovers for the next couple of days, it made that much!

I was particularly attracted to the concept of there being celery, carrots and potatoes in the soup along with the tomato.  Any excuse to get a bit of vegetable matter into my menfolk and I'm there.

Son & heir really liked the soup - and enjoyed dunking his muffins in.  Hubby wasn't so keen, in that all he could taste was tinned tomatoes (which was odd, as there was rather more than just tinned tomatoes in there!) and found it too acidic for his palate.  I really, really liked it - and would make it again for just such an occasion as Halloween.

The soup comes up - after blitzing - as very nicely thickened and wholesome, but without degenerating into babyfood.  I liked the tomato flavour and didn't find it acidic at all.

I suppose all you can do is try it - and let me know if you think it comes up acidic, as we just can't agree, here!

If you are interested in the recipe for the muffins - scroll on down!

CREAMY TOMATO SOUP   (serves 5-6)

Ingredients :

1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 onion, chopped finely
2 celery sticks, chopped finely
150g carrots, peeled and chopped finely
250g potatoes, diced finely
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp tomato puree (Tarantella is my favourite)
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
400g tin chopped tomatoes (Tarantella, again)
250g passata (and again, Tarantella is my favourite)
1-2 vegetable stock cubes (I used Essential Cuisine's vegetable stock powder)
500ml boiling water
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
100ml full fat milk
100ml single cream.

Method :

1.  In a deep, large saucepan, heat the oil and add the onion.  Cook gently until it has begun to turn golden brown, then add the celery, carrots, potatoes and bay leaves.

2.  Fry gently, stirring from time to time to prevent the potatoes sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the vegetables have softened slightly.

3.  Stir in the tomato puree, sugar, vinegar, chopped tomatoes and passata, then add the stock cubes or powder.  Add the boiling water and stir well.

4.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until the carrot and potato are tender.

5.  Remove the bay leaves, then blitz with a hand blender until smooth.

6.  Season to taste (the amount of salt will depend entirely upon the salt contained in the stock cubes), you can afford to be generous with the black pepper.  You may need to add a pinch or two of sugar, depending on which brand of tomatoes you used.

(If freezing, this is the stage at which you would cool the soup for the freezer).

7.  Stir in the milk and cream, check for seasoning and don't let the soup boil from here on in.  Bring up to a simmer and serve.

Printable version

Now, the perfect accompaniment to the above soup, are my Bacon & Cheese Muffins.  The best part about these two combined, is that you don't need to see what you are doing, in order to eat them.  Hence, being out in the dark with a mug of soup and a muffin in your hand, is no problem.  You can keep your eyes on the fireworks without worrying about nibbling around a bone, or whether you've got the best bits on your spoon.  Just dip and slurp - what could be easier?

These Bacon & Cheese Muffins have to be the single most requested recipe in my entire repertoire.  I think of anyone was asking me for my signature recipe, it'd have to be these chaps.

I have made them so often in the past, that the recipe can be utterly trusted to deliver a gorgeously light and fluffy muffin, redolent of cheddar cheese and smoky bacon.  Whether you're eating these for breakfast, lunch or with soup for dinner - they hit the spot.

I have big problems keeping these muffins in the house long enough to take photographs of them, to be honest!  No sooner are they out of the oven than there's a queue of hungry menfolk licking their lips and clutching their woefully empty plates, with hopeful looks on their faces.  It's not just the menfolk either!  While the muffins are cooling, I have to barricade them behind tea caddies, fruit squash bottles and cereal boxes, plus make it very difficult for the Secret Paw (also known an Jonty, the Saluki dog) to get his paws up onto the worktop - or they'd be gone.  All he can do is patrol the area with his nose in the air!

The kitchen suddenly becomes a very busy place, when these muffins are out of the oven!

By the way, it might be worth your while to not let on how easy these are to make - or you'll be being petitioned for more baking before you know it, too!

You'll find the recipe for the Bacon & Cheese Muffins here.

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