Recipe of the Month for October

Best-Ever Creamy Tomato Soup

For years I searched for the perfect cream of tomato soup. You know, the kind they serve in American roadside diners, or in my case the kind I imagine they do. The kind you wish they served in tins from the supermarket. I've tried probably a dozen different recipes. But I could never find the right one. Either they were too sweet  or not tomato-ey enough. They were too runny or too spicy. And the better ones always involved tie-consuming things like oven-roasting tomatoes and so on. Eventually, after keeping the best bits and making my own adjustments I believe I have developed the perfect recipe. Not that I believe in perfection where recipes are concerned, but I've certainly had no complaints. This makes about four decent portions if you're serving with lovely bread or a sandwich. But you could easily double it or halve it.


4 standard cans of chopped tomatoes (it saves chopping whole ones)

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar (please don't use white)

4 tablespoons of butter

4 large shallots (a small onion will do)

pinch of allspice

2 tablespoons of flour

2 tablespoons of brandy or sherry (whichever you have in)

half a cup or 125ml double cream

one and three-quarters of a cup or  430 ml of stock


cayenne pepper

Foggy Day at Chatsworth

 When it's damp and chilly outside, try this heart-warming soup

Melt the butter in a large pan and cook the shallots until they are soft, but not too brown.

Add the tomatoes and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it cooks evenly and doesn't stick.

Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves.

Add the stock and flour and stir so that it dissolves evenly. This will begin to thicken the soup nicely.

When this has reduced and thickened stir in the brandy and cream.

Add the salt and cayenne to taste.

With some canned tomatoes you may need to add a tablespoon of tomato puree to boost the flavour. If you do, you can add it at the end and stir in well.