Thursday, October 21, 2010


I just harvested what will probably be the last of my heirloom tomato crop, although there are still a few beauties--green, though--clinging to the trellis.
With the last harvest, I made a pot of Indian style tomato chutney/jam and divided it up into little containers and popped them into the freezer. I love to take gnocchi, boil and drain them, and then toss them into a hot cast iron skillet with olive oil and minced garlic until they are golden brown and then stir in the tomato jam, chopped parsley, a bit of chicken broth (or pasta water) and then top them with toasted bread crumbs. They are delicious with lamb chops!

This harvest, though, goes to a pot of tomato soup that is super easy to make. I just cut and quarter the tomatoes and 'stew' them down in a bit of olive oil with diced yellow onion, a nice bouquet of fresh thyme, salt and pepper and a bay leaf; I toss the cherry tomatoes in whole. Once they 'disintegrate' I cool the mixture, put it through a food mill, whisk in a bit of good tomato paste and 1/2 a stick of good butter. I then put it in a big plastic (don't use metal) container and store it in the fridge. The first round of this soup is just gently heated and served with a dollop of plain whole milk yogurt, a grating of Parmesan Reggiano, fresh ground pepper and toasted cubes of Ciabatta. And while this is just heaven, the second round is indulgent, luxurious and worth every calorie.

When we lived in San Francisco, we would often take a 'road trip' up into the Napa wine country and each excursion was marked by a stop at a fabulous little bistro in Yountville called, Bistro Jeanty, where I ALWAYS ordered their amazing tomato soup. It was done with full-on heavy cream and topped with a tent of puff pastry browned to perfection. So, this will be my final rendition for my soup. I simply take my base, cook it with a bit more butter and several cups of heavy cream until it is thick and silky. Then I ladle it into oven proof mini soup tureens, top it with puff pastry and bake it in the oven until the pastry is golden. Now, I'm all for turning recipes toward a healthier and more heart friendly route, but there are some magnificent things that should never be 'toyed' with and this is one of those. For the last 6 weeks, I have gazed upon these slow ripening beauties with longing; I have watered and fertilized and coaxed and waited ever so patiently for them to ripen in the ever chillier air and this preparation is the fruition of and reward for all of my patience; this is one tomato soup tradition that will never fall by the wayside in my home kitchen.

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