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Tomato and watercress soup

ingredients

serves 4
450 g (1 lb) tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons fine oatmeal
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chopped mint
2 bay leaves
1 blade of mace
6 peppercorns
4 - 6 parsley stalks
2 tablespoons celery leaves
750 ml (1 1/4 pints) chicken stock
1 bunch watercress sprigs, trimmed
2 teaspoons lemon juice
salt and pepper
celery leaves, to garnish

method

1. Put the tomatoes into a saucepan over a moderate heat and stir in the oatmeal and paprika. When well blended, stir in the oregano and mint.

2. Tie the bay leaves, mace, peppercorns, parsley and celery leaves in a piece of muslin and add with the stock. Stir well and bring the soup to the boil slowly, stirring constantly.

3. Cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes. Discard the bag of flavourings. Put the soup in a liquidizer and puree.

5. Return the puree to the pan. Chop the watercress, stir it into the puree with the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for about 3 minutes until the watercress is just tender. Garnish the soup with celery leaves and serve hot.

A good home-made stock is the secret of delicious soups. It is well worth making a large quantity and freezing it in different sized containers.

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