Friday, 7 August 2015

Something Savoury: Tomato Soup with Cheese Buns (Wheat-, Dairy-, and Egg Free)

I know that my blog is about baking nice sweet things to eat and be happy about, but when I'm not baking up sugary delights I'm using my other culinary skills to make meals for myself (and occasionally my companion). This time, I made some nice tomato soup with little cheese buns to dip in.

Every so often, I do a grocery shop, but then my life gets busy and I end up with vegetables in my fridge that are still in date, but a little bit too sad to serve in their own right with a meal. So, I turn them into soup, generally speaking, and usually tomato soup (or sometimes carrot and coriander).

This soup, however, is a little different to most recipes you'll see as is contains no added dairy, sugar, or flour (for thickening), but is still rich and creamy. I achieve this by using passata instead of fresh or tinned tomatoes, as it is already rich and thick, adding an apple for sweetness and texture, and a touch of rice for thickening. Sounds mad, but it works a treat!

The buns are also incredibly simple and are ready in less than half an hour, and are very easily customised. You can add some chopped spring onions, herbs, or spices if you wish.

☑ Soya (check for soya lecithin)
☑ Yeast
☑ Wheat
☑ Nuts
☑ Eggs

☒ Gluten (unless you use gluten-free flour)
☒ Refined sugar products


For the soup

  • 1 pound (450 grammes) carrots
  • ½ a white onion, or a small red onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium sized dessert apple, such as a Gala or a Pink Lady
  • 1 carton (500 grammes) passata
  • 1½ to 2 pints (850 millilitres to 1 litre) water
  • 2 tablespoons (30 millilitres) uncooked Basmati rice
  • ½ teaspoon (3 millilitres) dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon (3 millilitres) dried parsley
  • ½ teaspoon (3 millilitres) paprika
  • 1 tablespoon (15 millilitres) olive oil, for cooking
  • Salt and black pepper

For 8 mini buns, or 4 medium buns,
  • 3 ounces (85 grammes) white spelt flour
  • 1 ounce (30 grammes) cornflour
  • 1½ teaspoons (7 millilitres) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (3 millilitres) caster sugar
  • 1 ounce (30 grammes) butter, at room temperature, or block margarine for those who can't eat dairy
  • 1 ounce (30 grammes) mature cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 to 3 fluid ounces (60 to 90 millilitres) water, at room temperature
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Optional: a beaten egg to wash the scones before baking, if you can eat egg


To make the soup,
  • First, prepare and cut all the vegetables for the soup. Peel and cut the carrots roughly into small pieces, no bigger than half an inch (1 centimetre) big; peel and quarter the apple (cutting top to bottom), cut out the core in each quarter, cut in half again, then chop into pieces no bigger than an inch (2½ centimetres); peel and finely cut the onion into small pieces; and press the garlic, or if you don't have a garlic press, cut into teeny tiny pieces.
  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, and add in the onion with a generous pinch of salt and stir. The salt will make the onion release all the juices, and when it has gone moist reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 5 minutes; this is called "sweating".
  • After sweating the onions, increase the heat to medium again, remove the lid and add in the garlic and uncooked rice, cooking for a minute or two while stirring until each grain of rice is shiny and a little translucent. Adding the garlic at the start would be risky, as the garlic can easily burn and make the soup bitter.
  • Then, add the carrots, apples, herbs, and paprika, cooking for another minute or two while stirring. Pour enough water over the top to cover the vegetables: you may not need the whole 2 pints (1 litre) now, but keep onto whatever water is left as you'll need it later.
  • Bring the mixture to an active simmer, lots of little bubbles as opposed to lots of big bubbles, and cook for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the vegetables are very tender and the rice has fallen to pieces.
  • Once the vegetables and rice are cooked, add in the passata and stir to mix fully.
  •  Remove from the heat, and then blend the soup. If you have an immersion blender, this is super easy as you just pop it into the saucepan and whizz until to soup is smooth. I, however, only have a regular blender: I filled the blender jug about a third full at a time (because the soup is hot), covered the blender leaving the middle of the lid out to let steam escape, and then blended until smooth, covering the hole with a tea towel to prevent splashing. I then poured the blended soup into a  3½ pint (2 litre) measuring jug to return to the saucepan after the whole soup was blended.
  • Return the blended soup to the hob to heat and season. It's wise to season the soup at the temperature it will be eaten, to make sure the seasoning is accurate. Add salt and pepper to taste: it should be rich and creamy, but still a little tart.
To make the buns,
  • Preheat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF, Gas Mk.6), and lightly grease a flat baking tray.
  • Sieve the flour, cornflour, baking powder, sugar, and a pinch of salt and black pepper into a mixing bowl. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles something like fine breadcrumbs.
  • Add the grated cheese and stir until each strand of cheese is tossed in the flour. Add the water, a little at a time, mixing until it comes together in a soft and slightly sticky dough.
  • Flour your hands and break the dough into 4 or 8 pieces, to your preference, rolling into balls.
  • Place on the baking tray, about an inch or two (2½ to 5 centimetres) apart. Brush with milk or beaten egg, if you can eat those.
  • Bake for 10 to 15 minutes (depending on size), until they are puffed up and pale brown on top. Serve warm or at room temperature.

This soup keeps for up to 5 days in the fridge, but also freezes exceptionally well. The buns can keep for up to a week in an airtight container, but are best enjoyed on the day they're made.

THIS TIME IN 2013: Chewy Caramel

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