This recipe is a handy and tasty variation on tomato soup that uses plums to give a sweet and sour flavour. It’s based on a Michael Smith recipe from the 1980s. I don’t mean Michael Smith the very successful Scottish chef or Michael Smith the well-known Canadian TV chef; I’m talking about Michael Smith the cookery writer, TV chef of his day and great champion of British food, who sadly died back in 1989.
This may not be exactly Mr Smith’s original recipe, but the spirit is there.
It’s possible to make this with tinned tomatoes if you’re stuck for fresh, but you’re likely to need less passata in that case. It’s crucial to get the balance of sweet and sour right for this soup and you may need to adjust the amount of sugar you add depending on the sweetness of the plums and tomatoes you’re using.
This will make 4 or 5 decent-sized portions.
1 onion, chopped
500 g plums (preferably red ones), stoned
325 g tomatoes, deseeded (you don’t have to be fanatical about the deseeding)
300 ml passata or sieved tomatoes
500 ml vegetable stock
½ tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp fresh oregano leaves
about 2 tsp sugar – you may need more or less depending on the sweetness of the plums and tomatoes you’re using
Soften the onion gently in a little oil.
Add all the other ingredients, but only use 1 tsp of the sugar at this point. Season with a little salt and pepper. Bring up to a simmer and let the mixture bubble away gently for about 15 minutes or until the fruit is very soft.
Allow to cool a little, then liquidise and strain through a fine sieve. Adjust the seasoning and add more sugar if needed. Reheat and sprinkle with a few leaves of chives and parsley or chervil before serving.