A Food Hug: Tomato Soup
Summer in San Francisco means lots of fog, but it still means lots of tomatoes. We snap up early girl tomatoes at the beginning of the season and grab cheap boxes of “ugly” tomatoes at the farmers’ market at the end of the season in late September/October. After a bumper backyard crop last year, Luca and I made a go at growing our our own again this summer, but the unusually cool summer has taken its toll. [BTW: for you gardeners, it's too late to plant this year, here's a great guide from Love Apple Farm on growing tomatoes for your future reference.]
Seems like tomatoes show up on our table just about everyday during their season. We love them in salads, sandwiches and sauces. We stock our freezer with homemade conserva di pomodoro (tomato paste) and the ultimate simple sauce Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion. If you haven’t tried this recipe, you must. Using fresh or canned tomatoes, it’s great as is — especially on gnocchi. And because it’s so simple you can use it as a flavorful base for other pasta sauces. [I usually use a little less butter and rough chop fresh tomatoes, removing the seeds and skin by passing the sauce through a food mill after it's cooked. My husband and son prefer a less chunky sauce which is another reason I like the food mill. Using fresh tomatoes will require more cooking time because of the higher water content].
We also make sure to cook up as many batches of tomato soup as we can. It’s become a summertime tradition. For my family, it’s the perfect comfort food especially with a grilled cheese sandwich — and it puts a smile on our faces on even the foggiest summer day. I shared some with a friend recently, and she served it cold, sort of gazpacho-like, which is an interesting idea.
Classic Tomato Soup
This is a hybrid of various recipes we’ve tried over the years. We like the combination of roasted and fresh tomatoes. It’s very tomato-y and the brandy gives it a nice boost.
- Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Slice 2 pounds of tomatoes and lay them on the cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt and a little sugar, then drizzle with olive oil. Roast in a 375 oven for 30 minutes or until the tomatoes are a bit wrinkled and the much of their moisture has cooked out. Set aside.
- Saute 1-2 large shallots in butter in a large pot, then add a small pinch of ground allspice.
- Add 2 pounds of sliced (uncooked) tomatoes to the shallots, then add the roasted tomatoes, and enough chicken of vegetable stock to cover (about 6 cups).
- Simmer on low for an hour or so.
- Put the soup through a fine setting on a food mill, which will strain out the skins. You could use a blender, too.
- Return to the stove and taste for seasoning, adding salt or pepper to taste. Swirl in a TBL or sherry and 1/4 cup of half and half or cream.