Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Homegrown Tomato Soup

Here is a meal of which I'm particularly proud. I've made it a couple of times, and it was a success both times.

I sort of overdid it planting tomato plants this year. I knew I planted a lot, but they got much bigger here than I remember them ever getting in Albuquerque, and it's just sort of a tomato jungle out there:

This is from several weeks ago; it's crazier now. At any rate, they all seem to ripen at the same time, which means I either have no tomatoes, or too many tomatoes going mushy at the same time. I can't stand too-soft tomatoes raw, and we can only eat chicken or pasta with a tomato sauce so often in one week. Genius solution: when life hands you tomatoes, make tomato soup!

This turned out to be astonishingly simple and super tasty, not to mention cheap. Even if you have to buy fresh or canned tomatoes, these are usually fairly cheap, and the only other ingredients are onions, olive oil, and salt and pepper, all of which I usually have on hand. So I thought I was going to be doing some fancy, special dinner, but really I was throwing together a fast, cheap, weeknight staple. Plus, it's good for you! (Well, the grilled cheese isn't....)

I followed (more or less) Joy of Cooking's recipe for basic tomato soup:

1. Boil enough water to cover the largest of your tomatoes.
2. Cut a little x in the bottom of each tomato.
3. Drop each tomato into the boiling water for about 15 seconds; pull them out and plunge them in ice water to stop the cooking.
4. Peel off the skins using your fingers or the dull side of a knife. If it sticks, dunk the tomato back in the boiling water.
5. In a soup pot over medium-low heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil.
6. Add and cook, stirring, until tender but not browned, 5-10 minutes, 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped. The second time I made this I also tossed in some peeled and chopped shallots, since I had them on hand. Garlic would also be good to add here.
7. Stir in 3 lbs. tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped, with their juices (If you are suffering from a dearth of fresh tomatoes, substitute two 28-ounce cans tomatoes, chopped, with their juice. Since you get to skip the dunking and peeling and chopping, this turns it into a super fast meal, ready in about 35 minutes).
8. Simmer until the tomatoes are covered in their own liquid, about 25 minutes.
9. Puree the soup until smooth. For this, I use my immersion blender so I can leave it in the pot, but you could put your tomato concoction into a food processor or blender, making sure to scrape down the sides so it chops up all the bits. Return to the pot after blending and proceed.
10. Stir in salt and pepper to taste.
11. Heat through.

Whip up a grilled cheese sandwich and garnish with some fresh basil, and voila! Deliciousness.

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