3 large ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small red pepper, finely chopped
4 cups vegetable stock
3 tablespoons tomato paste
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup basil leaves, shredded
1 cup small shell pasta
fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Cut a small cross in the top of each tomato. Place in a bowl and cover with boiling water for about 2 minutes; drain and cool. Peel skin downward from the cross and discard. Roughly chop flesh. Heat oil in a large heavy-based pan. Add onion, garlic and red pepper; cook, stirring, for 10 minutes or until all ingredients are soft. Add tomatoes and cook another 10 minutes.
Add the stock, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and sugar. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat, add the basil. Allow to cool a bit. Use a Braun hand mixer to blend until smooth or in small batches - process in food processor until smooth. Return the mixture to pan and reheat gently.
Cook pasta separately in boiling, salted water until tender, drain. Add to soup and heat through. Serve sprinkled with fresh basil leaves!