This morning's New Covent Garden rendezvous with Seba. & Olga was set for 8am, but it rapidly became obvious (to yours truly, at any rate) that Tuesday is not a good day down there. In fact, I was told over the weekend that Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and the best days to forage in the vegetable wholesale market and that info appears to be correct. However, we did scrabble around and return to the Pullens Centre with quite a varied hoard that included celeriac and fennel as well as tomatoes and sweet peppers. So, I asked Olga - who made today's soup - which way she wanted to go and Olga, sensible woman, thought that the tomatoes had to be used immediately. So that's the way we went.
Today I awarded myself the luxury of standing on the other side of the counter, directing, while Olga and Seba. did the work. They chopped the tomatoes and peppers, put them on a baking tray with a good splash of olive oil, and roasted them on high heat for about half an hour. They chopped the mirepoix vegetables and sweated the dice in the bottom of the soup pot. They peeled and roughly diced four large potatoes - which might have been one too many - added them to the pot, covered with four litres of Marigold bouillon, brought the pot to the boil and simmered for fifteen minutes.
Once the tomatoes and peppers had collapsed in the heat of the oven and were swimming in their own juices, Olga liquidised them with a hand Brenda and forced the pulp through a sieve to remove the pips and skin. When the contents of the soup pot were cooked, she blended them with big Brenda. Then she mixed the two to make a thick, tomatoey soup that was given more variety with the addition of sautéed sliced mushrooms and served it garnished with torn basil leaves, of which we picked up masses in the market. It went down pretty well with the folks, at least 25 of them and I was able to sit about and chat for a change and take these pictures, reminding me of what's so cool about our community kitchen: