Happiness is deep-fried balls of cheese, floating in a bowl of warm creamy soup. Mmmm.
For the tomato soup:
2 lbs cherry tomatoes
2 whole bulbs of garlic, tops sliced off
1 large red onion, finely sliced
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
4 large sprigs of thyme, leaves picked off
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp tomato puree
3 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
Pesto, to serve
For the fried mozzarella balls:
12 mini mozza-balls
3/4 cup plain flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil, for frying
For the soup: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large roasting pan, add the tomatoes, garlic bulbs and red onion. Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle over the thyme leaves and season with sea salt and ground black pepper.
Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes or until the tomatoes have burst and are slightly caramelized on the outside and the garlic is soft and mushy. Remove from the oven.
Squeeze the cloves from the roasted garlic bulbs and remove the vines from the tomatoes if needed. Place the contents of the roasting pan into a large saucepan and add the stock. Simmer for 5 minutes, then use a hand blender or a food processor to blitz the soup until completely smooth. Stir in the cream and set aside to keep warm.
For the fried mozzarella balls: Gather three wide, shallow bowls. Add the flour to the first, and season with salt and pepper. Beat the egg in the second bowl. Place the breadcrumbs in the third bowl. Coat each ball of cheese with the flour, then dip in the egg and roll in the breadcrumbs until evenly coated. Repeat with all of the bocconcini, then place 3 balls on each skewer. Freeze for 10 minutes.
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add oil and heat to 350 degrees. Fry the skewers until they are golden brown, about 20 to 30 seconds each. Transfer the balls to a paper towel-lined plate then place them on a wire rack and keep warm in the oven while you fry the remaining cheese.
Serve the soup in bowls with the fried cheese skewers and a spoonful of pesto.