Cook what you grow... tomato paste and soup

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AUTUMN’S all about gluts of greenhouse produce, especially tomatoes.

Of course, it’s great to eat them fresh, but think how much you can save by making your own tomato paste, which can then be adapted over winter into pasta, meat and veg sauces, or soups.

It’s based on the Tuscan odori, which makes a great base for any savoury dish – finely-diced carrot, onion, celery, flat-leaved parsley and garlic (the first three in approximately equal quantities).

I also leave the tomato skins on, for extra texture and vitamin/mineral content.

The idea is to make it really concentrated, so it takes up as little space as possible in the freezer, storing it in plastic boxes from Chinese takeaways.


Odori: one onion, carrot, stick of celery, finely chopped; bunch flat-leaved parsley, chopped; 1-3 cloves garlic, according to taste

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3lbs ripe tomatoes, washed

Salt, pepper and sugar, to taste

In a wide, shallow non-stick stockpot, fry the odori over a medium heat until soft.

Add small tomatoes whole or roughly chop large fruits.

Allow the fruits to pop their skins and cook down a little on a medium heat, then with a masher, gently squash the fruit to extract their juice.

Season with salt, pepper and a large pinch of sugar to balance acidity.

Leave to reduce on a very low heat for a couple of hours, stirring occasionally, until as thick as chutney.

Pack into boxes, cool completely, label and freeze.


1 box tomato paste, defrosted

Milk (semi-skimmed or whole), or cream

Fresh basil

Blitz the tomato paste with a hand blender until smooth.

Add milk/cream until the consistency you like has been reached, check for seasoning, then serve with torn fresh basil on the top.

Eat with rustic cheese bread.