This rich soup blends the flavours of oven-roasted tomatoes with the fresh aniseed notes of fennel and tarragon. Topped off with a glorious molten cheesy crouton it makes a wonderful late summer dinner.
1½ kilograms very ripe tomatoes
1 red capsicum, sliced thinly
1 onion, sliced thinly
300 grams pumpkin, peeled and sliced thinly
6 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic or sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground fennel
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
3 cups stock, vegetable or chicken
sea salt and ground pepper
12 slices baguette, ½ cm thick
1 clove garlic, peeled
150 grams mozzarella cheese, sliced
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Core and halve the tomatoes then place in a large roasting tray along with the capsicum, onion, pumpkin and garlic. Drizzle over the oil and season generously. Roast for 40 minutes, turning occasionally until everything is tender and the tomatoes have collapsed and released all their juices. Pinch off the tomato skins with tongs and discard.
Tip the contents of the roasting dish into a large saucepan, scraping in all the juices. Stir in all the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil.
Season and simmer gently for 30 minutes. At this point you can leave the soup chunky, roughly mash it with a potato masher as I have done, or process the soup until smooth.
To serve: Brush the bread with olive oil and bake in the oven until lightly golden. Rub one side with the garlic. Divide the soup between ovenproof soup bowls and arrange the bread on top. Pile the mozzarella on top and place under the grill until golden and bubbling.