Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tomato Soup!

Consider this: it is mid-August, and everyone has too many tomatoes. If you know even one single person with a tiny bit of yard, or even a patio or a window sill wide enough for a tomato plant, they are currently trying with all their might to deposit at least a dozen tomatoes on you. They'll have a dozen more tomorrow. And the next day.

On Sunday, I received some tomatoes and put them in a bowl on my kitchen counter. On Monday, at work, there was a large bowl of tomatoes up for grabs (I passed on by them). On Monday night, I realized that the tomatoes on my counter were splitting, and not long for this world. I grabbed my absolutely reliable soup cookbook* from the shelf, and identified a recipe that looked straightforward and as though it would use up a pretty big pile of tomatoes. It called for three pounds, and I went ahead and assumed that was the amount I had in front of me (three moderately sized romas and four giant round something-or-others, bursting at the edges).

Here's where things really get good - I was able to parboil and peel the tomatoes immediately, and store them in the refrigerator until tonight (a full 48 hours later), when I got home at 9:15, hungry for tomato soup. I dumped the tomatoes and broth into a pan, brought it to boil, simmered for 10 minutes, stirred in 4 more ingredients, simmered for two minutes, plunged the absolutely genius immersion blender into the hot soup, and ate it. Immediately. It is absolutely delicious.

Furthermore, I suspect it will freeze very well. Which is good, because I plan to make a few more batches. One for each time I am inundated with must-eat-or-cook-immediately tomatoes.

Fresh Tomato Soup
3 lbs of ripe tomatoes (I eyeballed this, as noted above)
1 2/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock (I used the full can - 2 cups - of low sodium chicken broth)
3 Tbsp sun-dried tomato paste (I had a jar of sun-dried tomatoes in my fridge. I pureed 5 or 6)
2-3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2-3 tsp sugar
small handful of fresh basil leaves (I tossed in a few pinches of dried basil)
salt and ground black pepper

Cut a cross into the base of each tomato, and plunge into boiling water for 30 second
s. Refresh in cold water, peel off the skins, and quarter the tomatoes. (This took me all of 10 minutes, and then I stuck them in the refrigerator for 48 hours, until I had time to make and eat soup).

Put the tomatoes in a large pan and pour the broth over them. Bring just to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes until the tomatoes are pulpy.

Stir in the tomato puree, vinegar, sugar and basil. Season with salt and pepper, then cook gently, stirring, for 2 minutes. Process the soup in a blender or food processor, then return to a clean pan and reheat gently. Serve immediately.

I ate mine with a dollop of sour cream (naturally) and a grilled cheese sandwich featurin
g the odds and ends of some pepperjack that I found in my refrigerator. (I haven't done an official grocery store trip since the road trip last week).

*A note about cookbooks. This recipe is from a giant hard-cover cookbook called Best-Ever Soups by Anne Sheasby, which is just bursting with color photographs. It was in the $5 rack at Borders about five years ago, and I have made a dozen recipes out of it, each with great success. I love it. It should be noted that based on this experience, I snapped up a giant paperback cookbook last year (also in the $5 rack at Borders) called The Essential Pasta Cookbook (with no author, I now see), similarly bursting with color photographs. I have made two recipes from it, and both were tremendously lacking, both in direction and in result. It really is hard to tell a book by its cover. Or even by a quick scan of its recipes, it turns out.

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