A Potato and Tomato Soup, a gift from my mother-in-law
Sophia, Simi (who will be posting on Monday) and I are doing soups this month. Sometimes I think the world is divided into soup lovers and soup haters and a grey mass in between. I’m definitely a soup lover and I have been one as long as I remember; all the fairy tales where a huge pot of soup was simmering away over the open hearth, all the soups being ladled into wooden bowls and the continuous eating of soups, all these elements obviously made a strong impression on me and formed me for life. Or maybe it is the almost alchemical process that never ceases to fascinate me, you put different ingredients into a pot, bring it to boil and if you are lucky you end up with a golden flavoured soup. Apart from Creme Vichyssoise I don’t think I ever followed a recipe to make a soup, I might be inspired by a recipe but I find that it is the fairy tale method that works for me, a little bit of that and and a little bit of this or as the the 18th century Swedish cookbook writer Cajsa Warg is supposed to have said, “you take what you have”. When this month’s theme was decided, I immediately started thinking of which soup to make and I have been oscillating between the sweet soup my favourite aunt made for me when I was a child, the dumplings my mother often added to her soups and some others but in the end I decided to post about a soup my mother-in-law Anna Maria once taught me. Three are the women who have influenced my cooking in this life, my mother Kia obviously, Ewa Klingspor, the mother of the two children I looked after/au-paired/nannied for two years between school and university and my mother-in-law Anna Maria. Three very different women with very different styles of cooking but all three have made a strong imprint on/in me when it comes to food. My mother-in-law is a great cook and baker in addition to being a very supportive and accepting mother-in-law (because we are as different as night and day in many things, especially when it comes to keeping things in order) and innumerable are the times when I have asked her about cooking, ingredients or for recipes. Not to talk about getting inspired by what she cooks because I’m lucky enough to stay with them when I work in Milan which means that I dine like a Queen!
This soup is one of the simplest soups I know but don’t let that fool you, it has a surprisingly complex taste and it is infinitely comforting! I don’t have a real recipe for this so I will give you a recipe sketch of it, after all, this is how mother-in-law taught it to me:
Potato and Tomato Soup. Slice a small onion, peel and dice a reasonable amount of potatoes and put these in a pan with a little olive oil. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring all the time. Add a reasonable amount of ripe tomatoes that you cut into pieces, a pinch of dried oregano and now let it all cook for quite a while, always stirring. This is the clue to its goodness and my mother-in-law insists on this part, you need to cook the onion, potatoes and the tomatoes for at least 10 minutes, preferably more and stirring all the time, before you add enough vegetable stock to cover all ingredients and a little more. Leave to simmer for another 15 minutes and then eat.