I was ecstatic last week when I saw how many ripe, red tomatoes were waiting to be picked in our garden. This year’s harvest is a little late, but not to complain. There are plenty of recipes for fresh tomatoes. And coming from your backyard is as local as you can get.
Anatomically, tomatoes should be classified as a fruit. A Supreme Court ruling at the end of the 19th century found that tomatoes are, in fact, a vegetable. At the time, an import tariff existed, that applied only to vegetables. So, when a clever man started bringing in tomatoes under the “fruit” label, the court was quick to put an end to it. Their basis for decision? Linguistic reasoning. Tomatoes were found to be, “usually served at dinner in, with, or after the soup, fish , or meat” (McGee).
McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. New York: Collier, 1984.
I love a good tomato soup, especially once the weather turns cold. Growing up, my mom used to make a “sick day” meal for me that consisted of two simply delicious things; tomato soup and grilled cheese.
This recipe is perfect for summer, however. It was almost like a gazpacho, in that there were little chunks and grains of fresh tomato in it. And rather than a grilled cheese sandwich, I made Parmesan croutons to put on top. It comes from Ina Garten’s newest cookbook, Back to Basics. It provided my husband and I with two dinners, and one lunch for myself.
1 1/2 cups chopped red onion
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon freshly minced garlic
4 pounds tomatoes, chopped (5-6 medium/large)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped basil
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3/4 cup heavy cream
Grated Parmesan (preferably freshly grated)
Salt and Pepper
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, deep pot over medium/low heat. Add onions and carrots and cook for about 10 minutes, until soft. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until fragrant.
Add tomatoes, sugar, basil, tomato paste, stock, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper, and stir to mix.
Bring mixture to a boil, then turn heat to low and let simmer, uncovered, for about 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice baguette into 1/4 inch slices. You can use however much you’d like, and save the rest by storing it in the freezer and reheating in the oven for later use.
Put slices on baking sheet. Drizzle or brush with olive oil. Sprinkle parmesan on top. You can use a lot here Bake for about 5-10 minutes, until cheese is golden brown on top. Remove from oven.
Once soup has simmered for 3-40 minutes, add the cream and process the entire mixture through a food processor, blender, or food mill.
Reheat once ready to serve. Place Parmesan croutons on top.