Friday, October 27, 2006

Tomato is Good for the Soul

Chicken soup for the soul? Please.

The other day I was having a rough one. It's hard sometimes, moving someplace you've never been. Not knowing anyone is perhaps the most difficult part. In Wisconsin I had a set and comfortable social network, but here- although I love California, it's pretty much starting from the ground up.

Throwing myself into this blog is one way I've attempted to get past those days where life can feel pretty hopeless. I've loved puttering about in my kitchen, music dancing from my speakers, throwing together quiches and scones and more recently, soup. It's an act that not only gets my mind off my troubles, but also serves as a feeling of accomplishment when something turns out right. And this soup? It turned out very right.

Tomato soup has always been my favourite, and I am fortunate to rent from a traditional Italian couple with a (not so) traditional tomato garden that takes up half the back yard. I slipped on some shoes to poke around the fading garden. I was in no mood to wrestle over a big pot of soup, but a quick pick-me-up might be perfect. I started selecting tomatoes.

I have never made tomato soup, and this was pretty much by wing. Some steps I figured out half-way through; such as it might be a good idea to get the skins off the tomatoes, and that seeds don't constitute a creamy soup. I also had no masher, ricer, processor, blender, or any form of making a puree. So I went rustic, and I used my hands. Therapeutic? You bet.

Creamy Tomato Soup For One

1 dozen cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste.

Quarter, peel, and de-seed tomatoes. With cherry tomatoes, this is easier than it looks. Simply use your thumb to scoop out the seeds along the sides, then again to remove the meat from the peel. By your third tomato you'll totally have it down. Once they're in a bowl (with a few renegade seeds, probably) you'll want to mash the suckers. Form your hand into a fist and press down slowly, so as to not cover yourself in tomato juice. It doesn't need to be a puree consistency, as long as they are smooshed pretty well.

Heat up the olive oil in a small saucepan, gently. You don't want to fry the tomatoes when you add them. Add the tomatoes and stir for a few moments, then top with 1 cup water. Cover, and let this simmer down and reduce, about ten to fifteen minutes. Once it's cooked down to a thick, bubbling consistency, stir, then add another cup of water. Up the heat slightly to quickly reduce, stirring often. You'll be smooshing the tomatoes slightly here, turning them into a bit of a tomato paste, and you'll want to be careful not to burn them over the high heat. Once the tomatoes have cooked down, remove them from the heat. Add the cream a very little bit at a time, stirring quickly, then add about 3/4 cup of water. Place this back over the heat once more for a few moments, stirring. Serve in one bowl, topped with crème fraîche and crushed red pepper.

This soup was creamy, thick with tomato, and vibrantly alive. It tasted so amazingly good, and heartwarming. Chicken noodle? Not on your life.

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Blogger Scott at Real Epicurean said...

Beautiful. With photos like this, your blog will be so popular, very soon.

I'm working on a new links section, I'll add you soon.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Julianne said...

You've made me blush, and brought a smile to my day. Thank you Scott! :)

2:53 PM  
Anonymous Sean said...

Aw! If it's any consolation, we're all very nice here. All of us. You'll see.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Julianne said...

It's comments like that that make me want to hug this state. Thank you Sean, you're heartwarming. :)

6:02 PM  

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