Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Weeknight Tomato Soup

Hello, Fellow Foodies!

Thanks to Elizabeth for asking me to join in on the NW Foodie blog. I work(ed) with Elizabeth, and really appreciate talking about crazy food with her. :)

So... onward!

Last Sunday, I decided that my tomato plants were "done". The leaves were starting to brown and curl, and - heck! - it's early October in Seattle! Rain was coming, and tomatoes were starting to split.

So I harvested.

Those were the spoils from my two heirloom tomato bushes, grown organically with worm compost tea. (For reference, the circles in the background are my stovetop, and the 'maters are on a 12" dinner plate).
Tonight, after getting home, I decided I should use them up. But how? The split ones were starting to attract fruit flies... so I had to do something. I thought about roasting them, but my Pyrex casserole dish was being inhabited by a roast chicken. (That link goes to one of my favorite roast chicken recipes, by the way).
Soup! That was the ticket. But I just used my biggest pot, a 3 qt size, to start off a batch of corned beef. (I cook in waves, people).
Luckily, I had another 3 qt pot. And the following soup was born:
- 2 qt (approx) tomatoes, chopped and seeded. (If you like, you can peel them. I don't, but I'm lazy, I don't mind tomato skins, and it's not like I'm serving this soup to Julia Child or something...)
- several cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
- a good shake of sea salt or kosher salt
- several good grinds' worth of pepper
- One 12 oz bottle of beer (I used Alaskan Brewing's Broken Rake ale)
- Approx 3 c water (I eyeballed it)
- One 4 oz wedge of hard cheese, like Parmeggiano-Regiano or Asiago, finely grated (In the end, I probably used about 3 oz of cheese)
- Approx. 1-2 oz of thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma, torn or chopped into bite-size pieces
- Dash of Tabasco, if you like
- One bay leaf, if you have one hanging around
What To Do:
Chop and seed (and peel, if you're into that sort of thing) your tomatoes and drop them into the pot. They should come up about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way up the side of the pot.
Peel the garlic cloves and drop them in the pot. I accomplish this most easily using a flat river rock I found on a camping trip, and smash the garlic once to peel it, and again to squish it good.
Pour most of the bottle of beer into the pot. Drink the last few ounces.
Shake out some good sea salt and pepper over the tomatoes, garlic, and beer. Remember, nothing so far has any seasoning, and this is going to aid with flavors, so add at least a couple of good pinches of salt and several grinds of pepper.
Add the water till you're about level with the tomatoes. Make sure to pour it over the salt and pepper, to move them down into the soup. If you have a bay leaf, drop it in.
Cover the pot and turn the stove on high. Bring the soup to a boil, then uncover and drop to a simmer.
After it's been simmering a few minutes, drop in the grated cheese and torn bits of prosciutto.
Let the whole shebang reduce for a while, till you're happy with the consistency.
If you stuck a bay leaf in there, rescue it and discard.
Remove the soup from heat, let cool a tad, and serve! You could whuzz it a little with a stick blender if you like, but I kind of like the chunky rustic nature of the bits of tomatoes and prosciutto roaming around.
NOTE: See the green tomatoes in the picture above? I didn't use those. I only used tomatoes who were a color other than green.
The green tomatoes I shall save for roasting, grilling, or frying. I never believed Southerners who espoused their love for fried green tomatoes until I tried one that my friend and I grilled as an experiment in early September. It's GOOD. There are some crazy sugars in the green tomatoes that caramelize and produce a really different flavor than I am used to in ripe tomatoes.
ANOTHER NOTE: Are you Vegan? Vegetarian? You can still make this soup! You could whuzz up some tofu till smooth and drop it in for creamy-ing power. Or soy or dairy sour cream. Or a dollop of creme fraiche on top... I would think you could add tempeh for some bite, or maybe some sort of soy meat product.

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