Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Final! Seasonal {Summer} Supper

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup with Parmesan Toasts

Last week I promised you a decent (and final) seasonal summer recipe, and I am pretty sure that this one delivers. I know that tomato soup doesn’t exactly sound like summer food; however, late summer is really the only logical time to make it because the tomatoes are still sweet and delicious, but duh, it’s September and it’s starting to feel like fall and you want to eat something warm for dinner. I've wanted to make this for a couple of years now and finally got around to it with our local farm stand’s last tomatoes. It didn’t disappoint.

This is an Ina Garten recipe, so it goes without saying that this soup is delicious. That being said, it is a bit of a job, especially if you are not in the ownership of a food mill. I, of course, am not. If you are someone who works until 5 and gets home at 5:30, DO NOT plan to make this for your weeknight supper, or I promise, you will be cursing my name as you de-seed your first tomato. I made this on a leisurely Sunday afternoon with sunlight streaming through the windows, and we enjoyed the leftovers until Tuesday.

What you will need:

For the Soup:
-3 tbsp. olive oil
-1 ½ cups chopped red onion
-2 carrots, chopped
-1 tbsp. minced garlic (~3 cloves)
-4 lbs. tomatoes, chopped (~5)
-1 ½ tsp. sugar
-1 tbsp. tomato paste
-1/4 cup packed, chopped fresh basil leaves
-3 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
-1 tbsp. salt
-2 tsp. ground black pepper
-3/4 cup heavy cream (or half & half, which is what I used)

For the Parmesan Toasts:
-1 baguette (size depending on the amount you plan to make)
-Olive oil
-parmesan cheese, grated

Here is how you will make this:
-Fill a medium pot with water and place on the stove over high heat to boil. With a paring knife, make long slits in the skin of each of your tomatoes, going the entire way around the tomato. Set aside until the water is boiling. Meanwhile, get to chopping:

-When the water is boiling, take your first tomato and place it in the boiling water with a slotted spoon. Give the tomato about 15-20 seconds, then remove to a plate. Repeat with the other four tomatoes. As the tomatoes cool, you will begin to see the skin curl away from the flesh. Remove and discard the skins so that you have naked tomatoes that look like this:

-Cut the cores out of the tomatoes and slice in half. Place a strainer over a medium bowl and pull the seeds out of the tomatoes over the strainer, allowing the juice to collect in the bowl. Once de-seeded, roughly chop the tomatoes, discard the pulp and set the juice aside for safe keeping.
-Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and sauté, stirring occasionally, for ten minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute.
-Add the tomatoes, tomato juice, sugar, tomato paste, basil, stock, salt and pepper into the pot and stir. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer (uncovered) for 30-40 minutes. The vegetables in the pot should be very tender.

-During your 30-40 minute simmer-time, make the parmesan toasts. Slice the baguette thinly into as many slices as you can get. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, brush each with olive oil, and sprinkle with (a generous portion) of parmesan, salt and pepper. Place in the oven and bake for 5-10 minutes at 400◦ until lightly browned. Remove and cool.

-Finally, add the cream to the soup and blend (in small batches in a blender or directly in the pot with an immersion blender) until everything is incorporated into creamy red-orange bliss. Re-heat (if necessary) over low-heat and serve with the parmesan toasts and extra basil, if you so desire.

You won't regret your effort, I promise!
A couple of notes:
-If you have a food mill, you can skip the entire process of de-skinning/seeding the tomatoes. Just chop them roughly and the skin/seeds will come out when you process your soup through the mill.
-I probably could have skipped the de-seeding part, though I am not completely sure. I was not interested in a seedy soup, but in retrospect, I think they probably would have blended into the soup without much issue, and the rest could have been strained out. Try whichever way you prefer, and let me know if you find an easier way of getting a smooth soup!
-This is peppery. If you are not a fan of the speecy-spicy, only add one teaspoon of the pepper.

I hope you have enjoyed the summer supper series! Look for some fall food (and lots and lots of butternut squash!) in the coming months!<3

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