You Say Tomato, I Say Yum: Tomato Soup from the Garden
Busy planning Purple Asparagus’ Corks & Crayons, I figured I would resurrect this post since it’s on my menu this week given the plethora of tomatoes we have in our garden this year. A friend suggested planting hot peppers next to the tomatoes to deter the squirrels and it’s worked!
I first grew tomatoes as a grown-up on a roof deck of a condo building. With two of my friends, we planted, watered and tended ten different heirloom varieties. With visions of BLT’s, Caprese salads and pizzas with fresh tomato slice, we watched with great anticipation as some of our crop began to ripen. Finally, one morning, we journeyed up the stairs to harvest our first pick. With great horror, we saw that all of the ripe tomatoes were gone, ripped from their little green stems. Another of our neighbors had unceremoniously tossed them into his salad the evening before. When asked about it, he apologized and offered to replace them from the grocery store. Ugh. As politely as I could muster, I told him that the next harvest was spoken for.
These days we don’t need to worry about rude neighbors, but crazy squirrels. Our first tomatoes were marred by bites or carelessly tossed into the beds of other plants. For some reason, as the season has gone on, our rodent friends have lost interest and the tomatoes have been allowed to ripen and turn color. I’m crossing my fingers that one of these days soon we’ll have enough to make a bowl of soup as it is my son’s favorite.
His love of tomato soup all started when he pilfered a bowl of mine at one of our favorite restaurants. After finishing it off, he declared: “Mommy, I finally like soup.”
This recipe doesn’t involve a lot of ingredients, but instead lets the flavor of the tomatoes shine through. Accordingly, use the best and ripest tomatoes that you can find. With the exception of the bay leaf and pepper, I purchased all of the ingredients locally.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ large or 1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small celery stalk, thinly sliced
1 small carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
½ bay leaf
2 ½ pounds red ripe tomatoes
Freshly ground pepper
Roughly chop the tomatoes. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery, carrot and bay leaf and cook until softened, approximately 7 minute. Scrape in the chopped tomatoes and cook until they have broken down thoroughly about 45 minutes to an hour. Puree the tomatoes in a blender or food processor. Push the puree through a fine mesh strainer or a food mill. Return the strained tomato puree to the saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve in shallow bowls.
Kid Cooking Tips
With a kid safe knife, such as our wavy cutter wavy cutter, kids can cut the totatoes, celery and carrots. They can stir in the ingredients and the soup while it’s simmering. Finally, they can assist with pushing the puree through a strainer or a food mill.