A warming and satisfying soup that’s perfect for chilly evenings. Deconstructed ‘pesto’ toasts make a great accompaniment.
500g (1 lb 1 oz) small vine tomatoes Flaky sea salt, caster (superfine granulated) sugar, freshly ground black pepper and finely grated zest of 1 lemon for tomatoes Extra virgin olive oil 2 large red peppers (bell peppers / capsicums) 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 700g (1½ lb) jar tomato passata (passata di pomodoro) 500ml (2 cups) water 100g (3-4 oz) green beans, trimmed and slivered 2 small firm zucchini (courgette), trimmed and diced Pesto toasts 12 thin slices ciabatta Olive oil ¼ cup pine nuts Flaky sea salt 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped ½ cup big basil leaves Small piece of parmesan for shaving 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Preheat oven to 210°C (410°F). Line a shallow ovenproof tray with baking (parchment) paper (I use a Swiss roll tin / jelly roll pan). Cut tomatoes in half and place them cut side up in the tray. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and caster sugar and grind over a little black pepper. Distribute lemon zest over the top of tomatoes, then drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. Bake for 30 minutes until collapsed and lightly charred.
2 Put peppers in the flames of a gas element or over a barbecue grill and cook until charred, turning with tongs. When completely blackened, transfer to a plate, cover with paper towels and leave until cool. Slip off blackened skin – easily done using paper towels – cut peppers in half and remove cores and seeds. Chop flesh into smallish chunky cubes.
3 Put 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, cook for 1 minute until it is just starting to colour, then add the tomato passata and water. Bing to a gentle boil, lower the heat, partially cover pan with a lid and cook for 20 minutes.
4 Add green beans and peppers to soup and cook for 15 minutes, partially covered. Scoop tomato flesh from roasted tomato skins as soon as they are cool enough to handle. Add to soup with zucchini and cook for 2-3 minutes only. Season with 1 teaspoon salt, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve with pesto toasts.
5 To make the pesto toasts, brush the bread slices with olive oil, lay them flat on a baking sheet (tray) and bake for 5-7 minutes in an oven preheated to 180°C (350°F), or until golden. Alternatively, toast in a toaster then brush with a little oil. Brown pine nuts in a small pan over medium heat in a lick of olive oil. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Stack toasted bread slices with chopped garlic, basil leaves, pine nuts and shaved parmesan. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve.