Having six children means one of two things: bunker-in and try to survive by covering all the bases and keeping things simple; or go crazy, break the mould and have fun by being a bit bonkers. We’ve chosen the latter. So, at the end of another tiring day of boating, ball games and other frantic fun, we decided to have supper on the beach. Not a picnic in the conventional sense, or even a barbecue, which in retrospect would probably have been easier, but a pan of hot soup with bread, some mackerel pate,  ham & salami for those who didn’t want pate and a large loaf of Barabrith.

To be honest, it wasn’t a rip roaring success. While we were setting up, our middle two, wet suited, decided to run off with their cousins and take a dip in the understandably inviting, glistening evening sea and came to supper soaking wet & shivering. Our eldest was convinced that there would be sand in his soup, which there wasn’t!! and our second eldest, who carries an air of the urbane around with him, was determined that we bring a bottle of red wine with us to truly anoint the experience – nice  idea, but more stuff to carry. The youngest cut his toe on a rock….. and as I tried to take photos for the blog, the sun kept coming in and out of the Anglesey clouds in the most irregular fashion.  However looking back just sixteen hours or so later, the memories are not so bad at all!

I had originally wanted to make a soup with yellow courgettes, as it was this time last year that I happened upon a tiny green grocers in Conwy selling locally grown ones & had found them to be excellent when turned into a soup.  Sadly though, when I went back yesterday, they didn’t have any, so I had to come up with another plan. I thought I would experiment by substituting the yellow courgettes with a mixture of standard green courgettes  and sweet yellow peppers and see if that would work. I knew that the flavours would be strong enough for the older members of the family & pleasant and not too strong for the younger children. My preferred way to cook this soup would be in a low oven at approximately 140-150ºC for 3-4 hours but yesterday I was short on time, so I cooked it at 170ºC for two.  This is not a polished recipe as I basically threw this soup together, so the quantities and ingredients are according to what I was able to buy quickly and what was left lurking in my fridge. Nonetheless, it was successful and everyone in my family ate it without complaint.  If you wish to sweeten it further, you can add a couple of generous glugs of dairy or non-dairy cream to it at the end of cooking.

The Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed and chopped
  • 6 spring onions, sliced in centimetre slices
  • 2 brown onions chopped roughly
  • approximately 1700 grams ripe red tomatoes, chopped roughly and with the stalks removed
  • 5 large sweet yellow peppers, chopped
  • 3 medium sized standard green courgettes, sliced
  • 1 stick celery
  • one 400 gram tin chopped tomatoes
  • 3 1/4 pints of vegetable stock made up with water and Marigold Vegetable Bouillon Powder.
  • 1 rounded teaspoon dried thyme
  • half a teaspoon sea salt
  • grated zest of one small lemon
  • 1/2 to a whole level teaspoon of sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons runny honey

Makes enough for a minimum of 12 bowls.

Heat the oil in a substantially large saucepan. Add the onions, garlic, spring onions and thyme and cook on a low to medium heat for five to ten minutes until softened and starting to colour slightly.  Add the tomatoes, peppers and courgettes and cook gently for another ten minutes, stirring from time to time to ensure that all the ingredients are coming into contact with the heat and what is at the bottom of the pan isn’t sticking.  Pour in the vegetable stock and add the runny honey, salt, paprika and lemon zest.  Bring everything thoroughly to the boil, cover your pan and transfer to the oven.

Cook for either 3-4 hours at 140-150ºC or 2 hours at 170ºC.

When the soup is cooked blend until smooth and velvety.  I find the easiest way to blend soups these days is with a hand blender; so quick and less washing up!