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Jekka's Herb Cookbook
by Jekka McVicar

My mother was a great soup maker, and this is one of her recipes. Mum always used a pinch of sugar with tomatoes, even when making salads or a dressing to go over tomatoes, because she said it brings out their flavor. This is particularly true if you are using supermarket rather than homegrown tomatoes.
What transforms this soup from being run-of-the-mill to good is the rosemary; it truly brings out the flavors of the tomatoes. Serve with some fresh crusty white bread.
Serves 4


    • 2½ cups (600 ml) vegetable or chicken stock
    • 3½ tbsp (50 ml) unsalted butter
    • 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
    • 1 large onion, finely sliced
    • 1 large red bell pepper, seeds removed and finely sliced
    • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
    • 1½ Ib (675 g) tomatoes, peeled and chopped
    • 2 rosemary sprigs (each 1 inch/3 cm long)
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • Pinch of soft brown sugar
    • 1 tbsp (15 ml) orange juice


Gently heat the stock in a saucepan over medium heat.

In another large saucepan, melt the butter with the olive oil and gently sweat the onion and red pepper until soft (try not to color them). Add the garlic, stir and cook for a minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, stir for a few minutes, then pour in the heated stock and add the rosemary sprigs. Simmer for 20 minutes, add the salt and pepper to taste and, as my mother always did, a pinch of soft brown sugar.

Remove the rosemary sprigs - it does not matter if some of the leaves fall off. Using either a hand blender or a food processor, mix for a few seconds. If you are being a purist you can sieve the soup over a large bowl so that it is perfectly smooth.

Return to the pan, add the orange juice and check the seasoning. Gently reheat but do not allow to boil. Pour into serving bowls.



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