Pierre's Tomato Soup

by Elizabeth Atia -

Far off the beaten path, at the end of the road on the west side of Shetland, you'll find the rather eccentric and unusual experience that is Burrastow House.

Built in 1759 as a seat for the Henry Family, Burrastow House was originally constructed as a two storey "haa", a home of the farm manager of a laird's estate.

In 1980 it was transformed into a self-catering accomodation, and since 2004 Pierre Dupont has been running and renovating the property, keeping it in its original unique style. Burrastow House provides spectacular scenery, fine food and peace: the escapist's ideal refuge.

I first met Pierre last October while I was on the Shetland Food Trail, interupting him while he was filling orange skins with home made sorbet, and I vowed I would return for a meal once he opened again for the new season the following Spring.

This summer the perfect opportunity arose for a visit.

My mother in law was visiting from Norway and she emailed me in advance asking if I knew anywhere where we could take my husband out for his birthday dinner. Burrastow House was the first place that sprang to mind; the opportunity for an excellent meal in a unique and cosy environment.

I made reservations, and I was keen to see what delights would be on offer. I was looking forward to sitting and eating in the gorgeous dining room with its beamed ceiling, wood panels, chandelier and pristine white tablecloths; a place I'd told my husband all about when I'd visited Burrastow the first time around.

Pierre doesn't have a set menu, as such. He cooks whatever he fancies making that day, using what ever local produce he has available - a cooking style that closely resembles my own (meal planning, nah!).

We sat down for our meal in the cosy and intimate dining room, and the waitress came in and said:

Today's meal will be tomato soup followed by a roast lamb dinner with chocolate torte for dessert.

I don't know why this delighted me so much - I love surprises, and it's not every day you go out for a meal with no idea what the chef will be preparing!

The wine was poured and we awaited our meal.

The tomato soup - heavenly! One of the best home made tomato soups I've ever tried. Bursting with ripe tomato flavour and served with lashings of cream it was a perfect starter.

The main course - roast Shetland lamb served with a whole host of local vegetables, two types of potatoes (Gratin dauphinois and creamy mash), and just the right amount of gravy. The lamb - cooked to absolute perfection; tender and mouthwatering.

Be warned, the portions served are huge (with half size meals available for the children), but despite having full bellies we made room for the chocolate torte served with blueberries. The ideal dessert to round off a birthday dinner.

Afterwards I had a little wander around the premises. There are so many intriguing things to look at from the wall of pinned driftwood with little handwriten notes identifying the beach from where the wood was found, to oil paintings, books, flowers, carpets and peculiar wooden dragons! Some of the tiles in the conservatory are painted and the flatfish really caught my eye.

For tourists looking to explore the islands and stay somewhere secluded, this is an ideal base. I went on a bird watching tour with a woman once who was staying at Burrastow House, and she had a gorgeous packed lunch made by Pierre.

For locals - this is a superb venue for something a bit different, for a special occasion.

If you had any dietary concerns let Pierre know in advance so he can cater the meal accordingly.

Personally, I am looking forward to returning again one day, perhaps even spending the night! A holiday staycation!

To find out more about Burrastow House visit their website.

In the meantime, Pierre has kindly shared his tomato soup recipe so you can make it yourself at home!

Pierre's Tomato Soup

Course: Main

Servings: 4 people

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients
  • fresh tomatoes - 1 kg
  • tomato puree - 1 can
  • leek - 1
  • celery stalks - 2
  • garlic clove - 1
  • carrot - 1 large
  • bay leaf - 1
  • sea salt - (to taste)
  • black pepper - (to taste)
  • double cream - (to serve)
Instructions
  1. Cut all the vegetables into pieces and put them all, except for the tomatoes, into a large soup pot.
  2. Gently fry the vegetables for a few minutes until they begin to soften.
  3. Add the bay leaf and cover the vegetables in water. Leave the vegetables to boil for about ten minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Add the tomatoes and tomato puree, and let it come to the boil.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with double cream.
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