Marcus Wareing’s Perfect Tomato Soup – Feeding My OPP (Obsessive Pursuit of Perfection)

roasted tomato soup, cook the marcus wareing
It’s not easy being perfect.

Good thing I’m not even close.

However, being imperfect doesn’t mean that I’m not deluded into thinking that at some point, I may achieve perfection. I still strive for it. I am a perfectionist. Whether it’s a genetic feature that has been passed down from my ancestors and then mutated into some obscenely flawed version once it hit me, or whether it’s a learned behavior that I developed from being the first-born child to first-generation Asian parents, the fact is that I have never known any other way than to seek perfection. When I was little, perfectionism manifested itself in school. Straight As might as well have been required to be a member of the Delicious family and any other activities were deemed inconsequential unless I was ranked number 1, consistently came in first place, won awards, or was the team leader. It was a lot of pressure to perform for a kindergartener.

When quantifiable numbers like grades and test scores are the measure, perfection may seem like an achievable reality. The problem is that outside of numbers, perfection is a really just an illusion. It is a concept. Not only is the idea of perfection merely a model for something that does not actually exist, but that for which we aim, the value which we assign as “perfect,” is subjective. The characteristics of a “perfect” X are different for each individual; from a collective standpoint then, perfection is a moving target. Because there is no such thing as perfect, we should not worry so much about the actual outcome with some imaginary value and focus only on the quality of the effort we put into achieving that goal – something about the journey being more important than the destination?

Lucky for me, I just don’t operate that way!

My logical right-brain can literally register the idea that perfection is merely a concept, but somewhere, the transmission gets double-agent intercepted, deciphered and recoded into poetry before being delivered to my psychological mind (that reads as “psycho” and “logical” – coincidence? I think not). That twisted message, coupled with current external factors, and tripled with the repetitive pressure to excel that I experienced in my formative school age years has turned the pursuit of some “perfect” X into an ugly, crippling demon that poisons every aspect of my life.

I can’t make decisions for fear that they won’t be the right decision. I can’t complete projects unless I’m assured success. I waste inordinate amounts of valuable time analyzing every possible combination of events that lead to a variety of outcomes. I’m afraid to do anything because I’m afraid it won’t be…perfect. And at the root of it all, I don’t even know what the perfect outcome is because unlike report cards and test scores, most things in life aren’t measured with letters and numbers. It’s enough to make me wonder why I even bother doing anything at all.

The most obvious area of my life where perfectionism rears its hideous head is boys, but the complicated state of my love life is an issue to be tackled on another type of blog.

roasted tomato soup
that’s why i bother

I’m talking about food and cooking. If my homemade tomato soup isn’t going to be perfect, why even bother? I don’t even know what perfect tomato soup is.

Like I said, I am not only deluded into believing that I could potentially achieve The Perfect, but I was seduced by a man, his words and superficial appearance. (Good grief, didn’t I say I wasn’t writing about boys?)

roasted tomato soup - the solidsYes, I admit it. I was seduced by a word in the title of Marcus Wareing’s Cook the Perfect cookbook and the cover shot of his Perfect Roasted Tomato Soup. Though I thought that perhaps the recipe for Nordstrom Café’s tomato soup might have been the one, I couldn’t ignore the light, creamy orange perfection that was staring back at me from the pages of a book called “Perfect.” I read through the recipe with every intention of believing that this would be perfect, but made a few minor changes because really, did you think I wouldn’t do some comparative analysis of tomato soup recipes to determine what additional modifications would actually make it perfect? Of course not.

It wasn’t perfect.

But I had a good time making it.

Marcus Wareing’s Perfect Roasted Tomato Soup as Interpreted by Sarah

Heat a roasting pan for 3-4 minutes in a 475 degree preheated oven. Pour ½ c. olive oil (Wareing: 2/3 c.) into the pan and add 1 small white onion, chopped (Wareing: ½), 6 whole garlic cloves (Wareing: 3-4 cloves, sliced), and 2¼ lb fresh ripe tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, stir to coat everything with oil, and roast for 15 minutes. Add 2 Tbsp tomato paste, stir, and roast for 5 more minutes.

Add 1 c. sun-dried tomatoes in oil, 6 sprigs basil (Wareing: 3 springs each basil and cilantro), and roast for another 10 minutes.

Pour the entire contents of the roasting pan into a large bowl, add 2 Tbsp each of Worcestershire sauce and Balsamic vinegar, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for 30 min. I waited as long as I could, but surrendered to temptation after 20.

Puree the contents in batches until smooth, then pass through a fine sieve into a pot. My friends, I am lazy and did not do this. Let’s just say that I prefer things “rustic.” Or maybe I am just lazy.

Heat to simmer, add 2 c. chicken stock (I actually had to add a little more than 2 cups because of all those onions) and stir well. Taste and add seasonings (salt, pepper, Worcestershire, Balsamic) to your taste.

Serve hot.

** a year ago today, that what SHE said (in the Times UK) **
** a year ago today, i noticed the pushers on every street corner **

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 yoko October 9, 2007 at 1:17 pm

I gotta say that it’s great to see you cooking more again. That soup looks delicious, if not perfect.


2 H. C. October 9, 2007 at 3:53 pm

Heehee, almost everything I make is friggin’ “rustic” ~ at least my dining companions won’t get any inhibitions about diving in for fear of ruining a pretty dish.


3 sarah October 9, 2007 at 5:20 pm

yoko: yes, i think part of my problem was that i wasn’t cooking, and therefore, really missing something in my life for a bit there.

hc: but really, wouldn’t you rather serve a warm, comforting rustic presentation than some fussy tower at home?


4 melch October 10, 2007 at 9:36 pm

Stick blenders are a great tool for the lazy soup maker who doesn’t feel like the “rustic” feel. I don’t know if it does quite as good of a liquefying job as a blender does but you don’t have to wash a blender or mess about with pouring large amounts of hot soup in and out of things.


5 Michael October 11, 2007 at 3:51 am

I really enjoy your style of writing, although I kept wondering if I was missing some hidden meaning. Of course your soup I didn’t miss……..well, at least as soon as I make it. It sounds great.


6 Stephanie October 11, 2007 at 5:45 am

Oooh…that soups sounds amazing. Don’t care if it’s not perfect. Try living with someone, raising a preschooler, and housing 4 to 5 dogs. The quest for perfection? Detour to reality is more like it!

How’s the rest of the book? (because what I really need is yet another cookbook)

I’m especially fond of this recipe; I make it so often it’s kind of become a ‘thing’ around here. And for the record, I puree the hell out of it: I like a creamier soup. Adding a bit of cream? Heaven.


7 sarah October 11, 2007 at 9:36 pm

melch: i do believe the immersion blender will be next my purchase, especially since i love soups and ’tis the season…

michael: nah, there’s never any hidden meaning, but usually (and that’s USUALLY) there’s some time between food and my mental state

stephanie: ah, i love me some ina! i swear i wish i lived her life…cooking all day, playing with her gay boyfriends, and seeing her husband only on the weekends!


8 Stephanie October 12, 2007 at 4:22 am

Not to mention that house! I seriously want them to adopt me. My own parents sucked at the whole, well, being a parent thing, so why not?

I mean, I love to cook, so we’d have something to talk about. They don’t have kids of their own, so I’d supply them with an adorable grandson. I’m married & out of school, so no expenses!

Personally, I think it’s a pretty good deal.


9 Rasa Malaysia October 13, 2007 at 4:55 pm

When it comes to food, I think “perfect lies in the mouth of the beholder.” ;)


10 hermz December 11, 2007 at 9:41 pm

Your version definitely sounds better to me. Though I never liked tomato soup when I was growing up. My mom made me eat it regardless.


11 hermz December 11, 2007 at 9:41 pm

Your version definitely sounds better to me. Though I never liked tomato soup when I was growing up. My mom made me eat it regardless.


12 Sara May 21, 2009 at 6:35 pm

That looks great…I made something very similar to that recently…I think I like your adaptation better though.


13 Sarah J. Gim May 21, 2009 at 6:46 pm

Sara: i bet your version is delicious — link?! I always love seeing what everyone is making :D

Incidentally, I can’t believe I have YET to post my attempt at making the TRULY ULTIMATE tomato soup, the one from the Nordstrom Cafe:

Tomato Soup from Nordstrom Cafe

i found the recipe and was so so so happy that the dang soup was sweet because of so many carrots (as opposed to straight sugar).


14 Chrichbelilla March 16, 2012 at 12:04 pm

im so in love of this page!!!! you  have the greatest recipes ever!!!! this is what i call passion for culinary arts 


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