Last week, I posted photos of our tomatoes that are fully ripe and more than ready for picking. No problem, I thought! I taught myself how to can five different flavors of homemade jam. I felt as though I'd earned my stripes as a "blanch and peel" pro to remove peach and apricot skins. I figured it would be super easy for me to make a tomato basil soup, from scratch...from our garden.
With great anticipation , I picked tomatoes and I admired my basketful of these beauties. I looked at what I hadn't picked, and I didn't even make a dent. I have a lot of tomatoes left to be picked.
I searched for a recipe, but many of them listed canned tomatoes as an ingredient. Now, why would I want to used canned tomatoes, when I have a glut of these red and juicy orbs just waiting to fill a soup bowl? I have been told that one of my signature dishes is my homemade soups. I think homemade soup is so easy to make-- and I've blogged about a few from last winter and spring. I decided I could make up my own recipe by following a basic "cream of ...." soup.
So, I selected a bowlful of Early Girls (lamenting that I didn't have any romas) and I decided I could make up my own recipe.
But first-- I started a pot of water boiling and blanched the tomatoes for one minute. Then, I shocked them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Just as I had hoped, the skin had cracked and I could just slip it off...wrong! I forgot to core them!! It wasn't easy, mind you. I admit it-- I want to find shortcuts and I was not in the mood to cut stems out of blanched tomatoes. Fine. I'll use one of my many kitchen gadgets!
I have touted the virtues of my beloved OXO food mill several times on this blog. It makes perfect mashed potatoes and I recently discovered that it removed the majority of seeds when I made homemade raspberry jam. So, I figured that tomatoes would be no problem for the food mill to pulverize and I'd be on my way to making soup in no time at all.
Wrong! I ended up with juice and a lot of clumpy tomatoes. This was not going very well...
Next, I dragged out my trusty Cuisinart to break up the tomatoes a bit. Just a few pulses, and I'm liking what I see.
It worked! I put the chopped up tomatoes back into the food mill, and I was left with skins and seeds and it yielded 5 cups of crushed tomatoes. Whew! My kitchen, however, was a disaster area and I was breaking into a sweat. Mark my words-- I have no intention of doing this again. I mean it. While homemade marinara sauce, from garden tomatoes sounds heavenly... it's not for me. This was far too much work!
Now that I had the tomatoes, it was time to make the soup. This was Easy Street, I'll tell you.
In a large pot, I simply sauteed chopped onion with a little olive oil, salt & pepper and I cut fresh herbs from my garden-- thyme, parsley & oregano.
TIP: I save the rubber bands that comes with fresh asparagus or celery and use these tie my "bouquet garni". These are safe to boil.
I also grabbed a box of chicken stock and I was good to go.
I was going to add fresh garlic, but then I realized... I had frozen some basil pesto that I had made a couple of weeks ago, so removed a cube of that from the freezer. Brilliant!
I added the 5 cups of crushed tomatoes, one box of chicken stock, the herbs and about 2 Tablespoons of basil pesto, and about 1 tsp of sugar. I let that simmer, on low, for about 30 minutes.
I fished out the herbs and tossed them. I could have used an immersion blender to make the tomatoes really smooth, but I kind of wanted a rustic chunky texture (or, was I being lazy?)
I turned off the heat and added some heavy cream-- about 1/4 cup...not too much. Served with a dollop of creme fraiche, this was very good. Way too much work, but still it was a great tribute to my husband's dedication in growing our tomatoes. I'm going to try this again, but I'm going to see if roasting tomatoes is going to be a whole lot easier.
This recipe made 8 bowls. I froze half of this for the first day that we get rain. After our unseasonably hot weather, I'm ready!
Fall is on the way!