One of the benefits of being a farmer, which isn’t often talked about, is the easy access we have to ingredients and how having connections with other farms can help us stock our pantries with all manner of items. It’s easily one of the most overlooked bonuses of running a tenant farm and is something that really makes me feel closer to my community of fellow tenant farmers.
It all started with a bunch of tomatoes…
My early days as a farmer were fraught with worry and confusion. I was completely new to farming when I first started, moving from the city to a scarp of land in Hampshire in 2002. I had a plan, but with no previous experience I felt like I was doomed to failure, or at least some costly mistakes.
After moving into my standard issue farmhouse and buying in my starter crops I was ready to start farming, but there were so many little things that I was worried about. Was this the right time to sow my first seeds? What if my first crop fails? What happens if I have a bumper crop but no one to sell to? These worries kept me up at night, constantly second guessing my next moves and hampering my progress.
My salvation came in the form of a visit from a neighbouring farmer. Janice had been farming carrots and turnips for a decade, she was an expert in her field and a great cook. She brought with her a sack of her produce, along with a flask of warm carrot and coriander soup. We discussed the perils of starting out over steaming bowls of the stuff and she gave me sage advice which I have followed to this day:
‘You are always going to make mistakes, the only way you can move forward is by making them.’
It was a proud day when I could return the favour and bring round a flask of soup, made with my own produce. The recipe is below, if you’d like to have a taste of it:
My British Tomato Soup
- 25g Butter
- 2 Onions, peeled and sliced
- 900g Tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1/2 tsp Sweet Paprika
- 6 tbsp Dry Sherry
- 1 tbsp Sugar
- 1 tsp Salt
- Bunch of Mint
- 400 ml Vegetable Stock
First, melt the butter in a large saucepan with a lid, then add the onions and cook them slowly over a low heat until they’re soft.
Add your tomatoes into the pan, along with the paprika, sherry, sugar, salt, mint and stock – stir, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Once the time is up, leave to cool and then puree with a stick blender or in batches using a food processor until smooth.
If you desire a smoother soup you can sieve the soup back into the saucepan before serving with a few mint leaves as garnish.