Put me elbow-to-elbow at the farmers market over a box of Billy’s tomato seconds and I can get pretty competitive. My greediness reared its ugly head last week and I ended up with about four large tomatoes more than I needed. Serves me right, because there were plenty to go around. Even knowing this, the thrill of finding tomatoes that are almost perfect in the seconds bin gives me a high akin to finding an overlooked treasure at the thrift shop. I simply can’t resist.
A few weeks ago my friend Joan, an excellent cook & gardener, mentioned a tomato soup recipe that’s local, fresh and simple. It’s one she makes to freeze and enjoy all winter. Having indulged in many delicious meals at her table, I knew it was worth trying. In fact, her garden is so amazing that Valerie Easton wrote an article on it in the Pacific Northwest Magazine and will include it in her book coming out in the fall.
It’s comforting to know that even with her prolific garden, Joan still buys tomatoes from Billy to make her soup. My tomatoes are doing as well as can be expected with our schizophrenic weather. One week they grow like crazy and the next they slow down to a snail’s pace. I’m going to be ready and have a plan to make soup to freeze, just in case I end up with a bumper crop. These tomatoes are so ripe, the soup practically makes itself. Need I say, use the best ingredients and you won’t be disappointed.
Tomatoes and shallots starring in a summertime romance you won’t want to miss.
Joan’s Tomato Soup Recipe (4 to 6 servings)
1 cup shallots, sliced
5 lbs ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks (no need to skin or remove the seeds)
1/2 cup water
Freshly ground pepper
Melt butter in a large saucepan with lid. Add shallots and saute for about 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes, salt and water bring to a simmer. Cover and continue to simmer for 11/2 hours over low-medium heat.
Put the soup through a food mill or strain into a bowl. Test for salt and add ground pepper.
Serve this soup hot or cold. Dress it up or down. Add some cream, creme fraiche, croutons, herbs or take it in another direction with avocado and lime juice.
Joan originally got this recipe from Deborah Madison’s book, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I like Joan’s version better because she only cooks hers for an hour and a half instead of Madison’s three hours.
Just imagine pulling a container of this soup out of the freezer sometime next winter. You’ll taste the essence of summer all over again.