Welcome to the first in a long line of upcoming Food for Thought posts that focuses on a vegetable I’ve been swimming up to my eyeballs in: tomatoes. In Days of Summer Gone By Part II, my tomato garden flourished beyond something I could possible control. The tomatoes, basil and even the rosemary were beginning to get a tad overwhelming to say the least, and I absolutely needed to put my bounty to good use. With that goal, the first recipe that came to mind was tomato basil soup. I’ve never been much of a soup person, but when I was first introduced to the delicious and flavorful taste of tomato basil, it was love a first bite. So here’s a recipe for creating some fresh soup using some home-grown ingredients.
● 4 pounds tomatoes
● 2 carrots
● 1/2 large yellow onion
● 3 cloves garlic
● 1/4 cup basil leaves
● 3 cups chicken stock
● 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
● 1 tablespoon tomato paste
● 3/4 cup heavy cream
● olive oil, salt, pepper
1. Prepping the vegetables. Begin by chopping the carrots (unpeeled) and onions into medium pieces. Don’t worry to much about not making them completely even. It’ll end up being processed with a hand mixer later so as long as they aren’t huge chunks, you should be fine. Unpeel the garlic cloves and give them a good mince to get some small, thin pieces. Finally, for the star of the show, weigh out four pounds worth of tomatoes. I used roma tomatoes since that’s what I grew in my vegetable garden but you can use plum tomatoes from the store if you chose. Once you weigh them out, give them a course chop into a few medium-size pieces. Like I said, it’ll all get blended in the end so don’t worry about making it perfect.
2. Cooking the vegetables. Heat up a large stock pot over medium heat and add some olive oil to the base. First add the chopped carrots and onion, sautéing them in the olive oil for about 10 minutes. You want to cook them until they become transparent and soft. Afterward, you can add the minced garlic on top and let cook for just a few minutes. Finally, add the chopped tomatoes on top, giving everything a nice stir and mixing all the vegetable ingredients together with the olive oil. I know it may look like a lot to cook in one pot but everything will begin to cook down once you add the final ingredients.
3. The seasoning. Once all the vegetables are in, add the chopped basil on top. It needs to be fresh basil, which came in handy now that I was able to grow my own. You can substitute for dried basil, but you’ll lose a lot of the flavors that come with fresh basil. Then, add the chicken stock to the mixture. This will give our recipe the moisture it needs to turn into soup. Top it with the sugar, tomato paste, some salt and pepper and give everything a good stir. Place a lid over the pot and turn the heat to high in order to bring the soup to a boil. Once it reaches this point, take off the lid, turn the heat down and let simmer for 30 to 40 minuets, stirring occasionally.
4. The blender. For Christmas last year, Jacob got me this amazing hand blender to use for a variety of recipes. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend getting one. It saves on time and eliminates the need to switch the soup to a stationary blender (which you could also substitute with if you have to). The thing to remember with a hand blender is to be cautious. Turn the heat off and remove the pot to the other side of the stovetop. With the hand blender plugged in, make sure it’s firmly attached to the handle and submerge it into the soup. Turn the blender to its lowest power and move it around the pot, making sure it stays underneath the soup the entire time. Otherwise hot soup will be flying everywhere, including on you. Once everything is blended together, the results should be a smooth blend.
4. Finishing touches. After the blender has done it’s job, add the cream into the soup and use the blender once again to mix and combine it all together. The cream will change the color of the soup to more of an orange hue and thicken it up a little. It’s the epitome of creamy goodness. You may want to wait a little before serving just so it’s not scolding hot to your palette ( although it’ll be very hard to do so because of the intoxicating aroma). It’s so good, even Winston came out of lounging around to attempt to grab a bite. Pair it with some croutons or toasted bread and you’ve successfully mastered fresh tomato basil soup — true comfort food for the soul.
To see the original version of this recipe, visit my Pinterest page here: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/110478997085040185/