John and I spent a few days last week on Cape Cod where our friends P and K have a home. While we anticipated spending the last days of summer on the beach, the brisk winds and chilly weather made that idea moot. Fall is arriving in New England.
I can see the changes already taking place in the markets. Gone are the juicy, fuzzy peaches which now are replaced with towers of shiny red apples and golden pears along with multiple varieties of brightly colored winter squash. It makes me excited to think of cooking with these ingredients that have been more or less hibernating for the summer.
The afternoon before we left the Cape, K and I stopped at Cape Abilities farm stand on Route 6A in Dennis. Along with their display of pumpkins and apples, they had an amazing number of ripe tomatoes, and we immediately thought, "tomato soup."
I must admit I've had tomato soup on my mind ever since I read Kath's post over at The Ordinary Cook, in the beginning of September. Her idea of roasting the tomatoes with garlic sounds perfect. But I defaulted to my fallback recipe--one that first appeared in Food and Wine in 1979. Yes, I know my last post, regrettably, was filled with typos--but I really have been making this soup since 1979.
It's a flavorful soup made with a base of onions, garlic, celery and carrots. Add some fully ripened tomatoes, chicken broth and some seasonings and you are on your way to a very comforting dinner. If you have some end-of-summer tomatoes and some time to spare, give it a try.
Broadly based on a recipe by Richard Sax Serves 6-8
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
5 medium onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 ribs celery, with leaves if you like, sliced
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
Large pinch fresh basil, chopped
3-4 sprigs parsley, chopped
4 lbs. ripe tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
5 cups chicken stock
In a large pot, melt butter with olive oil. Add onions and toss to coat with fat. Cover pot and sweat the onions over medium heat, tossing occasionally, for 5-6 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add the celery and carrots, toss to coat, and salt, pepper, cayenne, basil and parsley. Toss, cover, and sweat until vegetables are slightly soft, about 5 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, prepare the tomatoes. Cut out stems and core; cut in half horizontally and squeeze out seeds; then cut each half in two. Add tomatoes to pot along with the sugar and nutmeg. Heat the mixture uncovered; when it comes to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, stirring often breaking up the tomatoes, until the vegetables are beginning to cook down and thicken, about 10-12 minutes.
Add the chicken stock, and bring mixture to boil. Lower heat and simmer, partially covered, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pass the soup through a food mill, pressing the cooked vegetables through firmly. Reheat the soup, and correct seasonings to taste.
Since my food mill has been lost in action for quite some time--and I never realize this until I go to use it-I peeled the tomatoes before seeding and used my immersion blender to do the pureeing. I served the soup garnished with a chiffonade of basil along with crostini topped with Gorgonzola cheese run under the broiler. My friend K, served hers topped with herbed croutons.
"By all these love tokens
September days are here,
with summer's best of weather
And autumn's best of cheer."
Helen Hunt Jackson