Thursday, September 11, 2014

Simple Tomato Soup

It's hard to complain about my gardens producing too much, but it can to be challenging to make sure than none of what my moderately green thumb has cultivated goes to waste. But as is so often my move, when I've got a lot of something to use up, I turn to soup, which turns out to be the perfect move as the temperatures dipped sharply into fall this week.

This recipe is an ideal example of simple perfection. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about, fancy ingredients and techniques when they're called for, but sometimes all you need (or have time for) is the simplest of recipes. And fortunately for me, my tomatoes only needed that treatment. There's enough butter to be subtly rich, a touch of tomato paste up the umami factor, and herbs from the garden for a versatile freshness to make this a suitable side for almost anything.

If you do manage to have any of this left over, it freezes beautifully, saving a taste of late summer though the depths of winter. But in the crisp fall air, who can resist the siren song of grilled cheese and tomato soup? I know I can't, especially when I can toss a few slices of apple from a local orchard in with my ooey-goeey Wisconsin cheese.

Simple Tomato Soup
adapted from Food and Wine
makes 4 first course servings

3 tablespoons unsalted butter (or olive oil)
3/4 cup minced sweet onion, such as Vidalia
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes—peeled, seeded and chopped, with juices
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth or stock
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, parsley, etc.)

1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, along with the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the broth  and season with salt and pepper. Simmer until the tomatoes are broken down, about 15 minutes. Add the fresh herbs and puree the soup until smooth.

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