NOTE: More drivel from the archives. This one was inspired by a rather plain-Jane batch of tomato soup I made with end-of-the-season tomatoes. Recipe, in all its completely unremarkable glory, at the end.
“As far as soups go, it is not what they are that interests me, but what they can become.” – Jean-Paul Sartre (Not really. Well, kind of.)
What am I?
How’s that for an existential dilemma, eh? I mean, who would expect a simple jar to question its place in the universe?
I am a jar of pretty decent tomato soup. Truth to tell, though, I’m kind of plain. Like that LBD you have in your closet.
What can I be?
Aha: this is where the fun lies. Because when you apply your imagination to me, I have the feeling I’m gonna be great.
Dress me up with a little cream and some slivered basil, and I’m Sophia Loren.
Hit me with some chopped spinach, a little crumbled feta, and a black olive or two and I’m Jennifer Aniston (hey: she’s Greek!).
Let me canoodle with some red chile paste and little coconut milk, maybe some cilantro, and I’m Padma Lakshi.
Or, make me cozy with some pureed guajillo or chipotle and I’m Selma Hayek.
A little creativity and I’ll become the best tomato soup you ever made!
- Olive oil & a knob of butter
- A large onion, chopped
- Several cloves of garlic, minced
- A big pinch of kosher or sea salt
- 4-5 cups tomatoes, peeled, de-seeded, and chopped coarsely
- 1/2 cup of white wine or vermouth, entirely optional but delicious
- 2-3 cups or so of chicken stock
- Black pepper, red pepper, herbs, or anything else you fancy.
- Perhaps a teaspoon or so of sugar
Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil and butter in a soup pot until well-cooked (translucent is fine, but I like it a little brown). Add the salt early on to help soften everything. Plop in the tomatoes; sauté for a few minutes and add the wine or vermouth. Give that a couple of minutes or so to reduce a bit then add the stock. Start with 2 cups for now. Let this all bubble away quietly for about 10 minutes then whiz it all with a hand blender until it is pureed (alternately, use the real blender or the food processor…just make sure to leave a way for steam to escape while you are pureeing). Too thick? Add more stock. Taste. Too tart? Add the sugar. Then, add whatever seasonings will make it delicious.