If, like me, you feel as though you are drowning in the produce bounty of the season, I am going to provide a few recipes which are delicious and will use up a lot of produce at one time. My first entry is a tasty roasted tomato soup filled with garlic. And I'm sorry, Northstar, but I've got you beat.
Tomato soup seems like one of those things which should be so easy. I mean, tomatoes are delicious, right? And yet, frequently I am served tomato soup with no flavor, scathing acidity, or unnecessary cream. I am going to combat those things with this recipe. It might not look completely beautiful in its closeup, but I assure you, it is tasty.
Please don't skip out on the Parmesan. I am absolutely convinced this is what helps to temper the acidity. You can buy Parm rinds from Whole Foods or beg your favorite chef for a few. They last forever in the freezer, believe me. I pulled these out from the bottom of the freezer from who knows when (over a year old), and after being used in the soup, the cheese part, which had softened a bit, was still delicious.
This soup takes a while, technically, and there is a little more work involved than there would be if you began with canned tomatoes, but I think the extra work is really worth it. And come on, there are only like 5 ingredients.
Late Summer Tomato Soup - serves 2-4
8 medium-sized to big tomatoes - just basic, round red ones, such as beefsteak
2 small onions, rough chop
6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced into thin slices
2 cups water
1 Parmesan rind, about 2" X 4"
Freshly cracked pepper
Turn your broiler on. Cut the tomatoes in half (widthwise) and squeeze out the seeds - do not throw away! We are going to use the juice! I like to squeeze the tomatoes over a fine mesh strainer sitting over a bowl. Cover a baking sheet with parchment (no tomatoes with aluminum!!) and arrange the tomatoes, cut side up. Sprinkle them with salt and place them under the broiler. Broil them for about 5-7 minutes, or until they are lightly browned with charred edges. This helps to caramelize the sugars in the tomatoes and take out some of the water, concentrating the flavors and again, helping to take out some of the acidity.
Set the tomatoes aside and allow them to cool. In the mean time, heat a little olive oil over medium-low heat in a large soup pot. Add the onions and sweat for a few minutes (5), and then add the garlic. Sweat for another 5 minutes or until the garlic has softened a bit. Add the reserved tomato juice (I got about 1 1/2 cups out of mine) and the Parmesan rind. The skins should slip right off the tomatoes. Skin the tomatoes and add the bottoms right into the pot. Core the tops and add those as well. Simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes, and then puree lightly with a stick blender - I don't like mine completely smooth. In fact, I really like to get little chunks of sweet garlic.
Add the water and keep simmering for about 2 hours on very low heat. Taste for seasoning and add a little salt and freshly cracked pepper. That's it! Serve with toasted bread or croutons.
Resist the urge to dump in a lot of spices. I know basil seems like a natural, or even a bit of dried Italian Spice, but the truth is, the pure flavor of the garlic and tomatoes is really amazing. Don't forget that the best products make the best meals. I used big fat tomatoes I've been receiving from my Wayward Seed CSA, along with 2 different varieties of small local onions (I think from This Little Farm at the Clintonville Farmer's Market) and this really amazing garlic I bought at Garden Patch Produce. The cloves are nice and fat, making them easy to peal and slice, and they have a really great mellow garlicky flavor that isn't overly pungent. If the garlic cloves have stuck to the Parmesan, you can pick them out and eat them as a cook's treat. They're quite tasty. So are nibbles of the softened parm.