This is the perfect soup for this time of year when tomatoes, especially big, meaty beefsteaks, are at their best.
2 kilograms very ripe tomatoes
4-6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2-3 tablespoons chopped thyme
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
small knob of butter
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups coarse sourdough bread crumbs
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
small handful basil leaves, ripped
Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
Remove the core and halve the tomatoes. Place on a lined baking tray, cut side up. Push two slices of garlic into the flesh of each tomato and top with a little thyme. Drizzle with olive oil then a pinch of sugar and season generously.
Roast for 45-50 minutes until the tomatoes are well coloured and starting to collapse. If the juices on the tray dry out, add a little water as these are added to the soup.
Base: Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion with a good pinch of salt, cover and cook until tender. Pull the skins off the tomatoes and discard. Add the tomatoes to the soup, scraping in the juices from the baking tray. Lightly crush with a fork, add the stock and bring to the boil. Season and simmer for 20 minutes.
Parmesan croutons: Put the bread crumbs on a lined baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat and bake until golden and crisp, turning every few minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately toss with the Parmesan. The heat will melt the cheese onto the bread.
To serve: Add the basil to the hot soup and stir to wilt. Ladle into shallow bowls and top with the Parmesan croutons.