The other night I happened on the best tomato soup. Not best for everybody, of course, but best around here because K doesn't like tomato soup – but he liked this one.
Several things brought this soup about.
Last year my BFF in Nashville told me about slow roasting tomatoes. She got hers from a CSA share as well as from an Amish family who live near her parents. She used her roasted tomatoes in soup, lasagna, and all sorts of other yummy things.
Her description piqued my interest, so I got online and checked out recipes. Since Alton Brown has never let me down on this kind of thing, I tried his recipe. Now, of course, I can’t find it online to link to, but it’s also in his book, I’m Just Here for the FOOD. Page 87, as it happens.
In short, you take twenty or so tomatoes, half them crosswise and put on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Drizzle with a half cup of olive oil and sprinkle with 3 Tablespoons sugar, 2 or 3 Tablespoons fresh, minced herbs of your choice, 1 Tablespoon of salt and 1 Tablespoon of pepper. Roast in a low (175 degree) oven for 10-12 hours. Overnight works great.
I thought they were grand, froze the lot and often added one to my breakfast or lunch plate over the winter. K wasn’t interested in the least, but I roasted up a bunch more this year anyway.
Then a few months ago K and I had lunch at a local restaurant and brewery. He ordered the tomato soup. I gaped.
“It has mushrooms and other stuff in it,” he said, quickly looking away.
“Hrrrmph,” I said.
Last week I was tired and half-cranky, so grabbed Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express, hoping for an idea for a quick dinner. There it was: Charred Tomato Bisque.
Here’s my adaptation, based on the confluence of events and recipes.
Best Tomato Soup
Slice a half pound or more of firm button or crimini mushrooms into 1/4 inch pieces. Chop in half if they’re large. Brown slowly in bacon grease. Butter will burn. You can use canola oil if you must, but (repeat after me), everything’s better with bacon. Let the ‘shrooms cook down by more than half, the browner and firmer to the tooth the better.
Pureed a double handful of slow-roasted tomatoes if you have them already.
Slice 4-6 tomatoes and lay on foil on a cookie sheet. Smash a couple cloves of garlic and add among the tomatoes. Broil until the tomatoes begin to blacken, about eight minutes. Remove the garlic before then if it starts to brown, but it will probably just braise in the liquid that seeps from the tomatoes.
Puree the tomatoes and softened garlic with half a cup of fresh basil leaves. Add a cup of heavy cream, half-and-half, piima cream or sour cream. Heat gently (do not boil) and add the browned mushrooms. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serves two. Good with ham-and-cheese sandwiches grilled on rye bread and a nut ale. I’m thinking carmelized onions and a few sourdough croutons might be good additions next time, too.
And yes, I made up the word “confluential.”
I’m also posting over on the Inkspot Blog today about the Sound of Pen on Paper.
Happy Soup to You.