2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, cored, deseeded and diced
750 g (12 lb) tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
600 ml (1 pint) vegetable stock
1 tablespoon tomato purée
2 teaspoons caster sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar.
plus extra to garnish
salt and pepper


1.Preheat the slow cooker if necessary.
2.Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onion and fry until softened.
3.Stir in the red pepper, tomatoes and garlic and fry for 1-2 minutes.
4.Pour in the stock, add the tomato purée, sugar, balsamic vinegar and a little salt and pepper and bring to the boil, stirring.
5.Pour into the slow cooker pot, cover with the lid and cook on high for 22-3 hours or until vegetables are tender.
6.Purée the soup while still in the slow cooker pot with a stick blender.
7.Alternatively, transfer to a freestanding blender and purée, in batches if necessary, until smooth, then retum to the slow cooker pot and reheat on high for 15 minutes.
8.Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed, then ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a drizzle of extra balsamic vinegar or stir in spconfuls of Spring Onion & Basil Pesto (see below).
9.FOR SPRING ONION & BASIL PESTO TO GARNISH THE SOUP, roughly chop 4 spring onions, then finely chop with a stick blender in a jug, or in a freestanding blender, with 4 basil sprigs, 25 g (1 oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 4 tablespoons olive oil and a little pepper until a coarse paste.
10. Spoon over the top of the soup just before serving.

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