It's all very well, this talk of pop icons and tennis stars, but sometimes one just has to come back to the stuff of life which is, of course, soup.
I made tomato soup last night because I had a glut of tomatoes (sadly not my own tenderly grown ones like Miss Whistle produces, but just bog standard British, bought from a shop). I was feeling lazy and could not be bothered with sweating onions and other refinements, so I did something so naughty I can hardly dare write it. I just put the tomatoes in a pot and boiled them. The end result was utterly delicious, and, I find this morning, equally lovely cold, which is a useful thing to know as we all swoon like Tennessee Williams ladies in the heat.
So here is what you do -
Take five or six big fat tomatoes, roughly chopped, three cloves of garlic and half a dried chilli. Just cover with chicken stock if you have it, or water with a tablespoon of Marigold bouillon powder if you do not. Despite what Marco Pierre White says about Knorr, I insist that Marigold is the only acceptable instant stock. In my case, I had cooked some chickpeas the night before with saffron and Marigold, and I used the water left over from that, thinking it might add a little extra flavour.
Then boil for about ten minutes, on a medium heat - higher than a simmer, not quite so violent as a rolling boil, I should say.
Put in liquidiser, add gloop of good olive oil, the grassier and fruitier the better, and blitz until smooth. If I had had any basil in the house, I would have added it at this stage, and if I had been thinking more clearly, I might have thrown in some of the delightful marjoram that is growing crazily outside my front door. You could play around with different herbs; a little parsley might bring something to the party. If you want a creamier, more Campbell's type soup, you could add a spoonful of mascarpone. In this case I did not, but the olive oil produces such a lush, velvety texture that I am not sure you need any more creaminess.
And that is it. I am almost ashamed to admit the blatant simplicity of the thing. Remember Dennis Potter in his final interview with Melvyn Bragg talking about the most blossomy blossom? Well, this was the most tomatoey tomato soup.