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Winter Soup Series: Slow-Roasted Tomato Soup Recipe

Any lucky patron of Clarke's bar and restaurant has likely enjoyed their tomato soup and cheese toastie combo, a global classic that is as warm as it is comforting. It was one of the first meals I ever had in Cape Town and it's remained a firm menu favourite for me, threatened only by their Bloody Mary (which, in thoughtful retrospect, is just a cold tomato soup with spicy pickles in it — Clarke's really knows how to treat a tomato).

As the country officially enters winter, I am visited by an annual urge to adopt a diet of soups. In our last newsletter, I gave you Silky Egg Drop Soup. This week, I entreat you to try this slow-roasted tomato soup.

Like most soups, this one is very forgiving. It will gracefully accept most spare vegetables rolling around your fridge drawer — a forgotten carrot and wrinkled bell peppers won't go amiss here. But, in truth, all you really need is some tinned tomatoes, onion, garlic, and a herb.

What you'll need from the shops to make tomato soup

  • Tinned tomatoes (one 400g tin per person being served) — Serena whole tomatoes or the 800g tins of Woolworths whole tomatoes are the best

  • One onion

  • A head of garlic

  • Herb of choice: parsley, thyme, or basil do nicely

  • Butter

  • Olive oil

  • Soy sauce

  • Salt


  • Cream or sour cream

  • Sharp cheddar

  • Ciabatta

How to make tomato soup

Step One: Put in pot

Preheat your oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Decant the whole tomatoes into an oven-safe pot. Now, take a deep breath and visualise the most frustrating person at work. Use your hands (and your rage) to crush the tomatoes until they resemble viscera.

If you're using carrots or peppers, chop them into thirds or so. Do the same with the onion until everything is roughly the same size. Peel a head of garlic, cube about 100g of butter (I don't know, measure with your heart), and pop everything into the same pot. Drizzle with olive oil, season generously with salt, and give it a mix.

If you are using thyme, now is the time to chuck it in — just make sure it's submerged in the tomato sauce, otherwise, it will crisp in the oven and make your soup bitter.

Step Two: Roast slowly

Put it in the oven for four hours. Stir every hour or so to prevent burning. Taste and season as you go.

Browning is an excellent sign that things are going well.

Step Four: Blend and season

When the sauce has reduced and darkened in colour after four hours, take it out and let it cool slightly. Take to it with an immersion blender and don't stop until it looks like soup. This will require a cup or more of water — slowly pour in until you've reached your desired consistency.

Do not put hot soup in a regular blender, especially a NutriBullet. You will suffer the grave consequences of physics.

I've liked to use soy sauce to season tomato soups and sauces ever since I made this Tomato Girl Summer Salad dressing. I have since learned that tomatoes naturally contain MSG, which may account for their compatibility. Use soy sauce a tablespoon at a time to achieve the desired savoury flavour; salt will do the rest.

Step Five (optional): Make a herby garnish and cheese toasties

Strip a leafy herb like basil or parsley, blanch the leaves in hot and then icy water, and chuck them into a blender with few tablespoons of cream or sour cream and a drizzle of olive oil. Blend until you get a pouring consistency — this will likely require a bit of water to loosen things up.

I won't insult your intelligence by telling you how to make a cheese toastie.

Step Six: Serve

Warm the soup through on the stove if necessary, decant into bowls, and garnish with fresh herbs or a creamy sauce. Serve with gooey cheese toasties. Enjoy the adoration of friends and family. Not bad for a recipe in which the tallest order is waiting four hours for anything exciting to happen.

Happy soup season,

The Life & Style team x


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