homemade tomato soup

October 14, 2013 § 53 Comments

For this particular recipe a medley of tomatoes straight from the vine went into this garden tomato soup.  A very sweet and firm fleshed tomato called “Plum Lemon”, which is a russian yellow tomato that looks like a lemon!  An heirloom striped tomato which looks like a bell pepper and also harvested were several plum tomatoes to add to the mix.  Straight from the vine and into the soup pot.

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The yellow ones are not lemons…they are yellow plum tomatoes!

This soup had a slight tanginess to it as well as an herbal infused flavor which came from sprigs of fresh cut greek basil and thyme.  I chose to keep the sprigs whole and remove at the end in order to keep the soup texture silky smooth.   Both the thyme and greek basil seem to have a toughness about the leaves and I was looking for a nice smooth finish.

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I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 pounds tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • a few fresh thyme sprigs
  • a few basil sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • sprinkling of pepper
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • a pinch of sugar (optional)

M e t h o d

Place the oil and butter in a large heavy bottomed pot and heat until butter melts.  Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until soft, about 8-10 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, thyme, basil, salt and pepper and stir to mix.  Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat until the tomatoes have collapsed, 6 – 8 minutes.

While the tomatoes cook, heat the stock until beginning to boil.  Using 1/2 cup stock in a cup, whisk the flour to make a smooth paste.  Add the flour paste and the remaining broth to the pot and bring to a boil.  Simmer for several minutes on very low heat, stirring frequently.  Turn off heat and cool enough to handle.

Using a hand blender (or blender) purée the soup until well mixed.   On several occasions I have read by adding a pinch of sugar to tomatoes rather it be a sauce or soup, helps to soften the acidity of the fruit and boost the tomato flavor.  I did add a pinch of sugar and I can not say if this had an effect on the soup or not.  It was so delicious and it seems using fresh tomatoes right off the vine you can not go wrong.

At this point I passed the soup through a sieve to catch the skins and bits to achieve a silky smooth texture.  I think this step is optional, it was wonderful even left a bit rustic and chunky.

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Topped with oven toasted croutons, fresh grated pecorino cheese and a few greek basil leaves.

Serves 4.

spaghetti puttanesca

March 14, 2013 § 1 Comment

Years ago I had a friend from Vicenza Italy who cooked remarkable spaghetti dinners. Every Sunday for years I was lucky enough to sit at his table.  He prepared sauces using unimaginable ingredients. Always surprising. Always delicious.  However, as an aspiring cook it was very frustrating for me.  He would never allow me to directly observe his cooking!  He was very secretive.  I would sneak as many peeks as I could.  There was always “something missing” when I tried to put together my own sauces at home.  I learned to develop my own versions of his creations.  Here’s one I love.  Spaghetti Puttanesca “the kitchen sink sauce”.  Only the tomato sauce is cooked.  I think it adds more flavor by keeping the “kitchen sink” uncooked.

 Tomato Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 whole garlic cloves-peeled
  • 28oz. can diced tomatoes
  • salt to taste

 “Kitchen Sink”:

  • 8 oz. of pimento stuffed green olives-chopped
  • 3 tbsp. large capers
  • large handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic-pressed

Pasta

  • 1 lb. of good quality spaghetti – DeCecco’s is great.
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

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For the tomato sauce, heat the oil and garlic in a saucepan. Cook until you can smell the garlic, add tomatoes and a pinch or two of salt and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for an hour.  You can either puree the sauce or leave it chunky.

To make the “kitchen sink” combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Set aside.

Boil a large pot of salted water, add pasta and cook according to package instructions.

Drain pasta and return it to the large pot.  Pour in the tomato sauce and “kitchen sink” ingredients. Toss well.

Serve with grated parmesan.

Serves 4

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Here’s a variation to this recipe.  A certain someone did not want pasta tonight.  So, I reserved some of the pureed red sauce and presented a soup!  I added a few spoonfuls of the kitchen sink and some parmesan on the top.  Lovely.  He loved it.

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buon appetite!

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