Preparation time less than 30 mins
Cooking time 10 to 30 mins
It is imperative that you get the best-quality, ripest tomatoes possible. Don't bother making this if all you can buy is pale, unripe, out-of-season tomatoes.
2kg/4lb 8oz vine tomatoes
100g/3½oz unsalted butter
extra virgin olive oil
½ onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp tomato ketchup
1 stick of celery, cut in large pieces
bunch of fresh thyme
500ml/17fl oz whole milk (you may not need this)
225ml/8fl oz double cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out the seeds. Put the pulp into a sieve set over a bowl to collect the juices. Chop the flesh.
2. Heat half the butter and a little olive oil in a casserole and, on a medium heat, sweat the onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, ketchup, celery and thyme, bring to the boil, and simmer until reduced by two thirds.
3. Remove the pieces of celery and the thyme and pass the contents of the pan twice through a fine-meshed sieve, rubbing it through with the back of a spoon into a bowl. It is important that you force nearly all of the pulp through, otherwise you will lose a lot of the flavour and will be left with a bowl of insipid liquid.
4. Measure the liquid; you should be left with approximately 500ml/17fl oz. If, for some reason, you have less than this, top it up to 500ml/17fl oz with half water and half milk. If you have more than required, return it to the casserole and reduce as necessary.
5. To serve the soup, simmer gently with the cream for 4-5 minutes, then whisk in the remaining butter and thin down with a little more milk if necessary. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.