Sweat the onion until translucent in the olive oil. Add the tomatoes (with any juice), the artichokes and half the stock, and simmer gently until the artichokes and onion are soft. Allow to cool slightly, then make a purée in a blender or food processor, and sieve into a clean saucepan. Stir in the remaining stock, bring to the boil, and simmer for 8–10 minutes. Season to taste, and serve hot. Cream and herbs can be stirred in if desired.
To make a fragrant tomato and garlic soup, sweat 20–30 peeled cloves of garlic (this is not a mistake - garlic loses its powerful smell when cooked with tomato, becoming sweet and mild in flavour) with the onion in the olive oil, making sure the garlic does not brown. Add a tablespoon of freshly grated ginger root with the chopped tomatoes and half the stock, and simmer until the garlic and onion are soft. Continue as above. Shredded basil leaves can be added just before serving, or this soup can be served chilled, garnished with chopped chives and watercress.
I also make a rich, velvety, red tomato and beetroot soup, substituting cooked beetroot (not pickled) for the artichokes. Cook this soup with a generous tablespoon of chopped dill, and add a swirl of soured cream to each serving.
© 1995 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.