Friday, September 29, 2017

Slow cooker Tomato Sauce, Rustic Tomato Soup, and a loaf of Sourdough Bread, perfect.

Rustic Tomato Soup
 At the beginning of the week I had tomatoes galore, needing to be cooked. So this week the theme in my kitchen has been mainly about the beautiful, ripe red  tomato, and lots of them. I became quite excited at last Saturday's Farmer's Market when there were quite a few different varieties of tomatoes for $2.00 or less a kilo in excellent condition, everyone was selling them,  so of course I ended up coming home with about 6 kilos of them, perhaps more. Very easy to do when they are bundled up in 2 kilo bags. Oops! Then I had to think of ways to use them up. In such a situation I  use my tried and true recipes and now have enough tomato sauces, soups and relishes to see us through for a few months. I'd like to share with you my Rustic Tomato Soup recipe  with White Pepper, which Mr. HRK really likes as his Mum used to make for the family. So I have tried to replicate that one. Also I filled my slow cooker pot with chopped tomatoes, sauteed onions and char grilled capsicum and left it cooking for 24 hours and am packaging it today into freezer bags..

I've been really surprised at how bountiful and inexpensive the vegetables and some fruit varieties such as bananas are at present. I rarely shop for fruit and vegetables at the supermarket if I can help it, preferring to support the local Farmer's Market, however even at the Supermarket this week I have noticed the broccoli and some varieties of tomatoes are around $2.00 a kilo, with other veges also markedly cheaper. The oversupply and low cost of Vegetables was a segment on the local news during the week, blaming the warmer Winter this year for an early supply of excess produce which in some areas is literally falling on the ground with not enough people available to pick or harvest it. This is devastating for the farmers, so whilst it is plentiful it is a golden opportunity to buy in bulk and cook or preserve it for later when the prices will certainly soar, and to also  support our local farmers. I'm not looking forward to paying $7.00 a kilo for tomatoes when the season finishes. We're having a break from growing them as our last lot of plants didn't do well because of nematodes, but at these prices it's easier to buy them for now.

The photos are of the chopped tomatoes in my slow cooker pot ready for long, slow cooking. When I was thinking of doing this I called my good friend Julia in Bowen, the tomato growing capital of Queensland, although Bundaberg is starting to challenge that reputation. My method here is based on what Julia does with the copious amounts of tomatoes and capsicums grown in Bowen that she ends up with.

I finely chopped three brown onions and sauteed these until soft and golden and starting to caramelise. Meanwhile I char grilled one red capsicum, placed it in a freezer bag when the skin was blackened until it was cooled and then removed the blackened skin. I would normally use about 3 capsicum though if I had them for extra flavour. I added the cooked onion and chopped cooked capsicum to the pot full of chopped tomato, gave it a stir and allowed it to slow cook for 24 hours. The end result had darkened in colour with the tomatoes broken down, and with some of the juices removed, and how long it takes really depends on your slow cooker. Overnight might be all that is needed so I would check it after 12 hours. The slow setting on my slow cooker is very slow, but I also have a Slow High setting so next time I think I will use that.

Allow the tomato sauce to cool, and then add two cups, equivalent to a can of tomatoes to freezer bags and store flat in your freezer ready for lasagna, bolognaise etc.

Rustic Tomato Soup with White Pepper (photo above)

Here is my Rustic Tomato Soup Recipe, which Mr. HRK's Mum used to cook a lot for their family apparently and I've tried to replicate it. She added milk to hers so that is optional in place of the wine or verjuice, particularly if children will be eating this. That is still how Mr. HRK prefers his.


6 large tomatoes, very ripe yet firm (Roma tomatoes work very well)
1 kg brown onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup (80ml) extra virgin oil, plus extra to serve
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped (optional)
Ground Himalayan Rock Salt to taste
White pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional), or to taste
1/2 cup (125ml) dry white wine or verjuice
1 litre boiling water


Cut the core out of the tomatoes. This soup is meant to be on the rustic side so there is no need to peel or seed them. Cut each tomato into halves, quarters then eighths. Cook the onions over a low heat in a heavy-based saucepan for about 10 minutes using a wooden spoon until they are nice and golden and very soft. Add the garlic and salt to the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the sugar, which will enhance the flavour of the tomatoes and give a boost if they are not in perfect condition.

Cook for 10 minutes and then add the wine and water. I only added half the water so that it would be nice and thick, and the water can be eliminated  completely for a superior soup which won't go as far. This can then also be used as a pasta topping with some fresh basil or oregano added. Tomatoes are so versatile.

 Simmer, covered for 45 minutes before serving. Add plenty of white pepper to taste. (This is the secret ingredient.)  Ladle the soup into the bowl,  drizzle a little olive oil and enjoy. I add fresh chopped herbs and some grated Parmesan cheese as well to serve and a slice of my sourdough bread toasted.

 I also remembered yesterday that I still had a whole green cabbage from the markets in our second refrigerator as well, which was still really fresh and crunchy, so a quick sauerkraut ferment, and that is taken care of.

Naked Kraut:

By this stage after dealing with so many tomatoes I was ready to take a few shortcuts. So I grated the whole cabbage except for the outer leaves and the stalk  in the food processor, added 2 tablespoons of Himalayan Rock Salt  and allowed it to juice in a large bowl for 45 minutes. This made about 1800 grams of  grated cabbage which fitted nicely into a very large Moccona coffee bottle, the largest available I think, and found at the Incredible Tip Shop in Mackay. We don't drink instant coffee, although obviously some people do as there were quite a few there for sale for about 1 dollar each. There was a slight overflow of juices so I quickly sterilised another smaller bottle and filled that one up too.

Fermenting and bubbling away
That is definitely the END of fermenting for me for a while. I am calling this my Naked Kraut range, I saw that name somewhere and borrowed it, as this is just cabbage and brine and a few seeds thrown in. Nothing fancy but I like the taste. I think I have enough now to last us for 12 months unless I become inspired again early next Winter.

Sourdough Bread:

I try to keep to the routine of baking my Sourdough bread on Monday each week however for some reason that didn't happen this week. So while the tomatoes were cooking and I had sometime I made a loaf  yesterday. The sourdough yeast for the bread was ready for use last Monday so I put it in the refrigerator and just took it out early in the morning to bring it back to room temperature and it was ready to use. I think this is one of my best attempts to date. Like everything it helps to keep in practice, and every time I bake a loaf I learn something new. A slice of sourdough toast with a bowl of Rustic Tomato Soup was delicious for a light tea last night.

In the bread tin after the first rise on the patio in a glass bowl.

Ready for the oven after rising outside in the tin on the warm patio.

A nice large loaf of Sourdough bread, and smelling delicious. It needs to completely cool before slicing. 

So it's been quite a busy week and I am looking forward to a restful weekend. However Sunday will be packed with excitement as the Cowboys play the Melbourne Storm in Sydney in the NRL Grand Final, just in case you haven't heard, and as we are North Queenslanders, Go the Cowboys. Steak will be on Sunday's menu, in theme with the Cowboys, and we are looking forward to that. It should be a great day, particularly when we win!! LOL.

Have a wonderful and relaxing weekend and thanks for visiting.

Best wishes



  1. I was just thinking the same thing. I bought a big bunchof rhubarb, so bright purple in colour and it was so inexpensive. It would have taken time to grow and cost to transport. We're very lucky to get the veges we can in such a range and price.

  2. Thanks for the tomato recipe tips, Pauline. I don't think the tomatoes are as cheap here at the markets as yet though. It hasn't been a good year for our growers once again. Wouldn't it be great if the cowboys won tomorrow!!! Go the Cowboys!


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