Thursday, June 28, 2012

Earthy, Smoky Fresh Tomato Soup

It's a hot, humid day today, but it didn't really stop me from making some good old tomato soup. Sometimes, when you're feeling down, tomato soup can really perk you up. One day, they're going to discover some sort of compound that legitimately proves why it brings back nostalgic memories of happiness.

I know everyone has their own tried and true recipe for tomato soup, but I like to experiment every time I make it... like a boss. (Haha, no. I promise I won't say that again.) This version has a hint of smokiness thanks to the cumin, an earthiness from a surprising source, and a whole lot of freshness because... it's tomato season! Whoooo hoo!

To serve two main dish or four appetizer, gather up:
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 smallish yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 6 or 7 well-sized Roma tomatoes, chopped coarsely
  • Pinch cayenne pepper 
  • 1/2 a mushroom bullion cube (Trust me on this.)
  • 1 generous tsp dried oregano or 1 tbsp fresh oregano minced
  • 1 quart vegetable stock (I used Trader Joe's low-sodium)
  • 1 15 oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed (I used Goya's Small White Beans)
  • salt to taste (remember, bullion cubes are salty too)
  • Handful fresh torn basil
  • Your favorite cheese for garnish (I used one of those tubs that have parm, asiago, etc. mixed together.)
And chop, stir, cook:
  • Warm olive oil in a stockpot or dutch oven over medium high heat and add in the diced shallots and onions and let cook until translucent, about 6 minutes. Then, stir in cumin and garlic and cook for 30 seconds until aromatic. 
  • Add in the chopped tomatoes, stir, and cover, allowing it to cook over medium high to high heat until broken down and very soft. Sprinkle the cayenne pepper, add the bullion cube, and season with oregano. 
  • Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 5 minutes. 
  • Then, add in the white beans, stir, and cover partially and let simmer for 15 - 20 minutes, depending on how hungry you are like right now
  • Now, my favorite part. I discovered this method when I first moved and had no blender either upright or handheld. Turn off the heat and take a potato masher (I have those wire ones that look like a squiggly line) and mash the beans and tomatoes together. Do a few good mashes just to break down the beans a little bit and let the soup become slightly thicker. You don't need to turn the whole thing into a smooth puree, and besides, you couldn't no matter how good your mashing arm is. 
  • Taste! Then, season with salt. And taste again!
  • Sprinkle basil and cheese on top and serve with oven-toasted whole grain bread.
  • Reminisce. 

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