* Tomato, Bacon and Sage Soup *

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Oh my gilly gosh, you have never tasted soup this good.  This recipe was created by my Beau, who felt we needed something seriously nutritious on a Sunday afternoon following a rather social weekend – and the result was delicious.  The combination of flavours is perfect and the bacon gives the soup substance and heartiness.  In our home we tend to roast a free-range chicken once a week and create a stock from the leftover bits and bobs, which is used as the base for this soup.  I’ll also warn you now – this soup is seriously moreish so there is a high chance of a few spats over the last spoonful – and watch out for the cunning tactics of your fellow clan attempting to distract you from the pot’s contents for an extra morsel.  On the rare occasion that there are any leftovers,  a cannellini bean or lentil stew may be created, which I’ll write the recipe for another day.  Don’t be put off by the complexity of this recipe, the finished product will be truly be worth it’s weight in tomatoey gold.

Did you know that cooked tomatoes are better for you than raw ones?  Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene, the phytochemical that makes them red and which also has significant antioxidant properties.   Research has shown that through the cooking process, tomatoes boost their antioxidant properties even more as the level of phytochemicals increases  The higher level of lycopene is good news as it devours at least 10 times more oxygenated free radicals than vitamin E.  And as the weather in Dunedin turns from balmy Indian summer to freezing overnight, we need all the warming goodness we can get.

2 cans of whole-peeled tomatoes

A can of tomato paste

6 bay leaves

8 fresh sage leaves

2 finely diced onions

2 tablespoons of olive oil

4 cups of chicken stock

3 – 4 rashers of free-range shoulder bacon, fat trimmed off and cut into strips

2 teaspoons of Worcester sauce

7 cloves of garlic, diced

2 -3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, grated

1/2 a cup of white wine

A  teaspoon of white pepper to taste

A tablespoon of honey

Parsley for garnishing

In a saucepan, heat two cans of whole-peeled tomatoes and a can of tomato paste on a low simmer and add 6 bay leaves to the pot.  In a frying pan, saute onions at a high temperature until they start to sweat and add finely chopped sage leaves.  Add two cups of stock gradually and simmer until the onions are translucent.  Add the onions to the pot tomatoes.  Place frying pan back on the heat and add the other tablespoon of olive oil.  Once the oil is hot, add the bacon and two teaspoons of Worcester sauce and saute. When the bacon is getting nicely browned, add the garlic and fry for a minute.  Add half a cup of white wine to deglaze the pan.  Once the wine has been absorbed, add the last 2 cups of stock and simmer for a couple of minutes, then mix into the pot of tomatoes and simmer gently.  Add the Parmesan cheese, white pepper and honey, then, after a couple of minutes on the stove, give it a mash and allow to simmer for 5 to 10mins.  Garnish with parsley and serve.

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