Symi Roast Tomato Soup With a Wild Garlic and Walnut Pesto

I first tried this beautiful interpretation of the classic roasted tomato soup on the island of Symi, a glorious island that elegantly lies in the Southern Dodecanese, north of Rhodes and close to the coast of South West Turkey. Although it’s a relatively barren place, the island’s rich merchant founders made the most of its beautiful natural harbour – in my opinion, the most beautiful in all the Mediterranean – by adorning it with rows and rows of pastel-coloured Venetian mansions that tumble down to the sea as if in a race to admire their reflections in the azure blue water. Along the harbour wall is a row of beautiful tavernas and the kind of whitewashed bars that are specifically designed to serve every whim of the kind of lotus eaters represented by Homer as ‘living in a state of dreamy forgetfulness and idleness as a result of eating the fruit of the lotus plant‘. It is my dearest wish that this deceptively simple recipe will render you similarly content.

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the pesto:
120g fresh wild garlic leaves, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
50g walnuts, toasted
Half a lemon, juiced
3 tbsp Raphael’s Gold Label extra-virgin olive oil PDO Kolymvari
50g Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground mixed peppercorns

For the soup:
1kg very ripe plum tomatoes, halved
2 red onions, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, roughly sliced
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
Raphael’s Gold Label extra-virgin olive oil PDO Kolymvari
1 tsp dried wild oregano
1 ltr vegetable stock
1-2 tsp red wine vinegar
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground mixed peppercorns
Pul biber, to serve

How I make it

To make the pesto combine the wild garlic, garlic, walnuts, lemon juice and olive oil in a blender and pulse them together. Stir through the cheese and season to your taste. Transfer to a sealed container and store in the fridge for up to a week. 

In the meantime, heat an oven to 200C and line a large roasting tin with baking parchment.

Arrange the tomatoes in the roasting tin cut side up. Add the onions, carrots and garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Use your hands to mix everything together, sprinkle the oregano over the top and season to your taste. Place in the oven and roast for 35-45 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Remove from the oven and pick the garlic cloves out of the tin, squeeze out the flesh and mash to a paste with a fork.

Place a large pan over a high heat. Add the roasted vegetables, the garlic paste and the stock. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Carefully transfer the vegetables and some of the stock to a food processor and blitz until smooth.

Return everything to the soup pan, add the vinegar and check the seasoning again.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Swirl each bowlful with a generous spoon of pesto, drizzle with a little organic extra-virgin olive oil – and throw over a sprinkling of pul biber.

Outside of the wild garlic season just add a swirl of really good quality Greek yoghurt or a classic basil pesto.

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