|Bernadette, one of the owners of Saints Cafe, where they always provide a friendly welcome.|
As well as its great food, the one thing I especially love about Saints is the fabulous atmosphere and very warm welcome. It's the kind of place where the owners and staff let you get on with your business in a non-intrusive manner, but if you're the type to seek out some friendly chat and humorous banter, there's plenty on offer, to make this one of the most engaging eateries in town.
So, can you imagine how delighted I am to have a valid excuse to dine out at Saints Cafe to celebrate the National Zero Waste Week awareness campaign. It's like home from home, but without having to do the cooking. And I'm here all week, learning some great tips in using up perfectly healthy ingredients that might not be obvious to an average householder.
And today's lesson is the humble tomato, which when freshly delivered is great for summer salads but when the sides soften don't look so great on the plate.
In the past, I would have just chucked out any tomato that didn't sport firmness worthy of a six-pack, but I now know better and have since boiled up plenty of very ripe tomatoes to serve up an unidentifiable "Cannard Creation". Anything to avoid waste, even if it did mean I'd be sat on my lonesome at the dining table.
What I've really needed is a good dash of inspiration so when Engin at Saints told me that today's "pot luck" lunch was Roasted Tomato Soup, both my tastebuds and imagination jumped for joy. No sooner had I sat down and settled myself in getting ready to blog and have a natter on Facebook, Kathryn arrived with the soup and accompanying garlic bread.
So for a proper look at what was on today's "pot luck" menu, and a game of "guess the ingredients" here's the close-up shot! Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Roasted Tomato Soup, courtesy of Saints.
Being a tomato lover, this soup was just the ticket for my first day in the cafe. It was delicious, full of mediterranean flavour and the texture was just perfect, and I managed to grab Engin for a quick run-down of ingredients....although I am quite proud of myself that I guessed most of them, even if there was one ingredient that totally suprised me.
Aside from the vine tomatoes, which were roasted in olive oil for 20 minutes, the other vegetables included onions, carrots, celery, all softened on the hob with olive oil to release their flavour. And the surprise vegetable was potato, which Engin introduced as the ingredient "no soup should be without" due to its fantastic thickening properties.
With the skins removed, the roasted tomatoes and pan juices were added to the softened vegetables and brought to the boil in a pan of regular home-made vegetable stock, seasoned with fresh coriander, a touch of basil, some parsley, salt & pepper and simmered for 20 minutes. It was then whizzed up (my words not Engin's) and served with some fresh cream and a sprig of parsley.
So how easy is that! It's definitely something I have the confidence to recreate at home. And while I've been typing up this blogpost, I've already been contemplating this soup as a great rescue recipe for some squashy tomatoes and bendy carrots I have at home, as well as some onions and potatoes that have begun to soften.
The only problem is, those soft potatoes I mentioned.....well, er, I have an awful feeling that in my hurry to exit my holiday lodge at Center Parcs this morning I left them in one of the kitchen cupboards. My only hope is that I left my husband there to pack up the car while I dashed off to take the kids to school.
So as I end this post with a keen desire to make Roasted Tomato Soup at home tonight, the mystery of the potatoes might just thwart me. And given that my hubby was close to throwing them in the compost bin last week when all they needed was a wash and the eyes removed, I've got a feeling that if he had found them, he might have left them there.
Oh well. That'll get me back to the drawing board then.
In the meantime, my huge thanks go to Engin and Bernadette at Saints for a fabulous Day 1. I look forward to coming back to see what's on the menu tomorrow.
It's not too late to join in the National Zero Waste Week. For more information about how you can get involved, visit www.myzerowaste.com.