Tomato Soup & Caprese Salad

Makes 4 servings.

We’re bidding goodbye to Summer with this fresh, fast, and fabulous meal. Featuring a refreshing tomato basil soup that comes together in less than half an hour, and a bright, spritely Caprese Salad that requires 5 minutes of assembly, it’s an ode to both seasonal produce and laid-back cooking. Served with store-bought sourdough (I’m working on a homemade Sourdough recipe), this is fast food with all the flavour of a slow-cooked meal. 


At a glance

– This recipe comprises + tomato soup + Caprese Salad.
– You will need a small pressure cooker, a medium cooking pot, a stand blender, and a small saucepan.
– This recipe has been broken into 2 stages for ease and comprehension. Please read the entire recipe from start to finish before beginning.

Stage 1: tomato soup

Deliciously fresh and summery, this flavour-packed tomato soup comes together really quickly and with just a handful of pantry staples. Perfect for dunking slices of sourdough, it has a creamy mouthfeel with zero addition of cream! Feel free to make this soup vegan by replacing the butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Ingredients
for the butter beans:
1. 50 gm giant lima beans/butter beans (roughly 1/3 cup)
2. 250 ml water for soaking
3. 150 ml water for cooking

for the soup:
1. 800 gm canned San Marzano tomatoes (peeled and in tomato juice)
2. 250 ml vegetable stock (hot)
3. 1 tbsp. cooking olive oil
4. 1 tbsp. salted butter
5. 100 gm red onion (roughly 1 large), diced
6. 2 small cloves of garlic, minced
7. 1 tsp sugar
8. 2 tbsp tomato paste
9. Cooked butter beans + cooking liquid
10. ½ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
11. 10-12 fresh basil leaves + 3-4 extra for garnish
12. ½ tsp celery salt
13. 4 tsp extra virgin olive oil


Prep
1 – Place the dried butter beans in a bowl and submerge them in water. Leave them to soak for at least 8 hours or overnight.

2 – The next day, strain out all the water and place the beans in a pressure cooker along with 150 ml water.

3 – Close the pressure cook and cook on medium-high heat. Once the cooker has reached full pressure, wait for 2 whistles and then turn off the heat (sometimes this will vary depending on how old your beans are. Fresh beans will take just 1 whistle, older beans may take 3. Mine took exactly 2 whistles to fully soften).

4 – Let the steam release naturally and then open the pressure cooker. Butter beans ready, set aside.

pressure-cooked butter beans, ready

Method
1 – Add the cooking olive oil and salted butter to a 3-litre cooking pot. Heat on medium until the oil begins to shimmer and the butter starts sizzling.

2 – Add the diced onion along with the sugar and sauté on medium heat until the onions are golden-brown, roughly 10-12 minutes.

3 – Add the minced garlic and sauté on medium heat until aromatic, roughly 1 minute.

4 – Add the tomato paste and continue sauteing for another minute.

5 – Now add the canned tomatoes and their juices, as well as the hot vegetable stock. (I used 5 gm of this vegetable bouillon broth + 250 ml boiling water to make my stock). You can use homemade vegetable or chicken stock if you have it.

6 – Raise the heat and bring the pot to a simmer. Once it’s bubbling, lower the heat and gently simmer the mixture for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

7 – After 10 minutes, turn off the stove and allow the mixture to cool completely.

8 – Strain the cooled mixture through a medium mesh sieve. Transfer only the stuff caught in the sieve to the jar of a stand blender. Now add the cooked butter beans as well their cooking liquid, 10-12 basil leaves, celery salt, and pepper. Blitz together until fully blended and totally smooth. Because of the fresh basil leaves, you’ll see gorgeous flecks of green speckled throughout the mixture.

9 – Pour the mixture back into the cooking pot and mix with the rest of the strained liquid. Taste the mixture and season it to taste, adding more celery salt, pepper, and sugar if desired.

10 – When you’re ready to serve, gently heat the mixture back up. Before serving, drizzle each cup of soup with 1 teaspoon of good quality extra virgin olive oil and top with some fresh basil leaves. Tomato basil soup, ready!

all the ingredients for the tomato soup
butter and cooking olive oil being heated
onions turning golden-brown
tomato paste being fried
canned tomatoes added to the pot
vegetable stock being added to the pot
straining the soup to catch the solids
getting ready to blitz the solids
tomato soup solids after blitzing
tomato soup, ready

I don’t recommend using fresh tomatoes to make this soup, as they can be notoriously unreliable when it comes to sweetness. Moreover, when they’re acidic, they take hours to break down. Packed with tomato flavour and possessing just the right amount of acid, canned San Marzano tomatoes are naturally sweet, vine-ripened, and harvested and canned at peak ripeness. This results in a soup that takes very little time and tinkering to whip up and is consistently tasty whenever you make it. If you want to add creaminess without heaviness, butterbeans are the way to go. Make a big batch of beans and freeze them to use whenever you want to make this delicious soup. This recipe makes 4 cups of soup and can be doubled or tripled to make a larger batch. Portion and store the soup in the freezer for 3-4 months and thaw and reheat as desired.

Stage 2: Caprese Salad

Bursting with clean flavours and fresh textures, Caprese Salad really brings out the taste of plain sourdough bread. Made by layering thick slices of fresh mozzarella and tomato with basil leaves—the resulting green, white, and red mirrors the Italian flag and makes for a simple but stunning visual effect. In my version, I use bocconcini and cherry tomatoes for easy transportation from platter to sourdough slice.

Ingredients
for the balsamic glaze:
1. 120 ml balsamic vinegar
2. 2 tbsp honey.

for the salad:
1. 400 gm Bocconcini Di Bufala (small, fresh buffalo mozzarella balls)
2. 250-300 gm cherry tomatoes
3. 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4. Balsamic glaze (you’ll have about 3 tbsp.)
5. 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
6. 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
7. 66 fresh basil leaves (small)

Prep
1 – Add the balsamic vinegar to a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil and then simmer on low or until it is reduced by about 3/4th and thickly coats the back of a spoon (roughly 5-6 minutes). Thereafter, add the honey and whisk to combine. Balsamic glaze ready. Set aside.

all the ingredients for the balsamic glaze
simmering the glaze till it’s 1/4 its original volume
reduced glaze, thickly coating the back of a spoon
adding honey to the reduced glaze
balsamic glaze, ready

Method
1 – Cut your cherry tomatoes into 3 slices. Set aside.

2 – Cut each bocconcini into 3 slices. Set aside

3 – Pluck the basil leaves off their sprigs and set aside.

4 – Get your serving dish. Arrange the bocconcini and tomato slices in a spiral pattern going from the outside in, alternating between the white mozzarella and the red tomato so that you can see both (like you’re arranging slices for ratatouille).

5 – Tuck in a basil leaf before every slice of mozzarella, so you see green, white, and then red in a continuous sequence (like the Italian flag). Set aside while you heat up the other elements.

6 – Re-heat your tomato basil soup if desired (it’s good cold too), slice up a loaf of sourdough and quickly toast the slices on a grill. 

7 – Right before serving, sprinkle the salt and pepper over the arranged Caprese Salad. Finally, drizzle on the extra virgin olive oil and the balsamic glaze. Caprese salad ready! Now eat!

cutting the bocconcini into thirds
slicing the cherry tomatoes into thirds
Caprese salad after assembly

We love Caprese Salad so much, we make it nearly every week. It’s perfect as an appetizer before a meal, as a side dish with pasta, or even as a main. If you prefer a lighter taste, you needn’t reduce the balsamic – although it does amp up both the presentation and the flavour.  Remember to arrange all of your salad ingredients, and season and dress the salad only right before serving. Adding salt and vinegar too early will make your tomatoes sweat.