Thursday, April 29, 2010

A very rustic tomato soup

I don't know about you, but I am often disappointed by the quality of the tomatoes I get at the grocery store. Sometimes they look so fantastic and they seem to have such potential, but then a taste lets you know that you have been deceived, once again. Sure you can cover the damn things in dressing and hide them in a salad, but what I like to do is make some lovely tomato soup.

I don't think tomato soup has a very good reputation, and I blame Campbell's. That awful, pureed, too salty, too acidic, too-red-due-to-artificial-coloring concotion that they label tomato soup is nothing but a blight upon the food industry. In fact, I think that many tomato soups get too liberal a salting. I'm all for salt—salt in ice cream, salt in cookies, salt with chocolate, salt on fruit, salt in compotes, salt in mouthwash, and so on—but salt in tomato soup is just one thing that I've always been more hesitant about.

Tomato, remember, is a fruit. Or, if you can't agree with that, it is at least a partial member of a fruit family, and only a partial member of the vegetable family. And so treat it more like a fruit.

I like my tomato soups to be seasoned with a little bit of sugar (just a little, mind you! the amont really depends on how acidic your tomatoes are), some cinnamon, and sometimes, some vanilla. These faint flavors turn the soup into something very lovely and warm and comforting. Something which I hope will not ever be associated with the terrible Campbell's version.

What I’m about to give you is a great recipe because it is so easy. It can be made in a pot, in a slow cooker, over a fire, in a rice cooker, you name it. I've actually only made it recently using my rice cooker. Why? Because it's convenient. And that's what cooking is about sometimes. Covenience.

So take this recipe and fly with it. Adapt it, change it, size it down, size it up, whatever you do, just please, give it a chance! It's a winner. Healthy, easy, tasty. I promise.

Very Rustic Tomato Soup
1 ½ cups of grape/cherry tomatoes, washed
1 tsp honey
1-2 tsp sugar (some vanilla sugar is excellent here)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2-3 tsp water

Combine all your ingredients into your cooking device (*see above*). Allow to cook on medium heat, covered, for 20 minutes (since you didn't chop the tomatoes, they will pop, and so you definitely want to keep a lid on this).

After 20 minutes, stir/mash the tomatoes to your desired consistency (I like having little bites of tomatoes remaining). Take the lid off and allow to reduce further if desired.

I don't mind the skins in my soup at all, but if you do, you have the option of "straining" your soup through a funnel or a food mill, or giving the soup a whiz in a blender or food processor. End result is a very rustic, very easy tomato soup.

Serves: one hungry person or two people as an appetizer

Last notes: Depending on your personal preference, all honey or all sugar can be used. If you don’t have vanilla sugar, a drop or two of vanilla extract is great.
This soup can be served hot or cold. In the summer, it is fantastic as a cold dish.