Warming tomato soup is a must for Firework Night and served in little coffee cups with crumbly cheese straw gives it a bit of class. Of course, if your friends are really hungry (or really cold) you can always use big mugs.
I had forgotten how tasty and how easy cheese straws are to make. They don't need soup as an excuse to make them and you can vary flavours with different cheeses or spice them up with a light dusting of paprika or chilli powder. They freeze well too.
Ingredients - makes enough for 12/16 coffee cups (depending on size)
1kg ripe tomatoes
1 large onion
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock (a cube is fine)
A few sprigs of basil
1tsp dried thyme
1 - 2 tsp sugar
2 tbs olive oil
Heat oven to 190°.
Halve the tomatoes, or quarter them if they are very large, and put them in a baking tin.
Peel and quarter the onion and add it to tin. Drizzle over the olive oil.
Cook for 20 minutes. Then mix it all together and add the herbs.
Sprinkle over the sugar, season and put back in the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the everything is very soft.
Slide the mix into a large saucepan and add the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for another 10 minutes.
Liquidise and then press the soup through a sieve to make it totally smooth.
Reheat to serve.
This soup also freezes perfectly.
320g puff pastry roll
I00g finely Parmesan cheese (Quattrocento Italian Cheese from Waitrose is a vegetarian alternative)
1/2 tsp mustard powder
Handful of flour for rolling
Heat oven to 200°C.
Roll out the pastry on a floured board to the thickness of approximately 2mm making the long edge longer.
Sprinkle over the Parmesan and mustard and flatten it into the pastry with the rolling pin.
Fold the pastry in half, long edge to long edge and roll over it again with the rolling pin. Cut strips of 1.5cm width and twist each one 3 or 4 times.
Put the strips on a baking sheet, leaving a space between each one and bake for 12 minutes or until they are golden brown. Cool on a rack.
Balance a straw across each cup of piping hot tomato soup and enjoy dunking it into the delicious soup or munch it separately. Either way, it's really good.
The cheese straws freeze perfectly as well. To use thaw and reheat for a few minutes at 200°C.