I learnt a lot from Gordon Ramsay on Hell's Kitchen. The best recipe I picked up was this one for tomato soup, which we served to 70 people, and about which we received not a single complaint. I've simplified it. Gordon's recipe uses smoked sundried tomatoes, which most people won't be able to find; mine uses a box of tomatoes, any type, as long as they're slightly over-ripe. It just depends what they have at the greengrocers. As for how many it serves, well, I'd say this should make plenty for everyone. It's best to make it in great quantities and freeze any that's left over.

A box of tomatoes (25), stalks removed
1 small bunch of each of the following: thyme, basil and coriander
1 bay leaf
Half head of garlic
Olive oil
1 onion

Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Drizzle some olive oil on to a baking tray. Quarter the onion, cut through the head of garlic horizontally, and place on to the pan along with the tomatoes. Add the thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns and rock salt and drizzle with more oil on top. Roast in the oven until the skins of the tomatoes start to blister, then add sundried tomatoes (optional) and keep in the oven for just a few minutes more. When the tomato skins are blackened, remove from the oven, add the herbs and allow to cool and infuse.

When cool, remove any woody stalks of thyme and put all the rest into a blender and whizz until smooth. Sieve twice (actually, Gordon had a Chinese sieve that did the job in one go), and hang on to the pulp, because it's very good for bulking out stews, cottage pies and so on. Finally, reheat the soup or have it cold.

Edwina Currie is supporting Marie Curie Cancer Care's Great 500 Cycle Challenge, riding from Gdansk to Warsaw. For more information go to www.great500.co.uk or call 01883 832632

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