Rainy day tomato soup

Today was cold and rainy. That wouldn’t be so bad except that it’s the end of April and the morels are trying to grow and we had a nasty, cold, bitter winter and we are all sick of the cold rain. What do we do in Antioch Kitchens on days like this? We make Tomato Soup. The usual accompaniment would be grilled cheese sandwiches; today it was our famous Mac and Cheese.

I think Tomato Soup works well with the Mac and Cheese so take a tip and try that pairing out. Obviously this dish benefits from using the highest quality tomatoes available. We use Muir Glen’s organic diced tomatoes in juice. I HIGHLY recommend that you make this out of fresh tomatoes later in the season. Made with fresh tomatoes this soup is nothing short of divine.

Ingredients:

4 cups tomatoes, diced

2 cups water

2 tbsp butter

½ cup onion, diced

¼ cup celery, diced

1tbsp basil, dry

¼ cup fresh basil, chopped

1 tsp thyme, dry

1 tbsp fresh garlic, chopped

¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Salt and Pepper To Taste

2 cups whole milk or if you want really tasty soup; Half & Half

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2 whole shallots, sliced thin

1 cup oil, use an oil that can reach a high temperature without smoking, Canola, grape seed, peanut etc.

 

Procedure:

Melt the butter in a sauce pan.

Sauté the carrot, onion, and celery until tender.

Add the fresh and dry basil, garlic, thyme, crushed red pepper, and sauté until fragrant.

Dump in the tomatoes and water, simmer. While this simmers work on your shallots. Instructions follow.

After the soup simmers for 30 minutes or so place it in the blender, vita mix, or food processor and puree until very smooth.  Be careful pureeing hot liquid. It’s hot.  If you have an immersion blender you’re lucky, so use that.

After the soup is pureed bring it back up to a simmer and stir in the milk or cream.

Season the soup with salt and pepper to your liking. Enjoy on a miserable Midwestern day!

 

Shallot procedure:

I have discovered in my recent studies that fried shallots are very common in Vietnamese cuisine. They are used as a condiment and garnish for a wide variety of dishes. I have also discovered that fried shallots are fantastic on all kinds of things, tomato soup included. Here it goes:

Slice your shallots thin.

Heat the oil in a small sauce pan or sauté pan to 350°F.

Place the shallots in the oil and fry them until golden brown.

The trick to this preparation lies in the technique. Keep your eye on the shallots. DO NOT leave the stove or they will surely burn. Stir them every couple of seconds to make sure they get evenly cooked. It takes a while for them to get to the golden brown stage, but when they do they go from brown to black very quickly. As soon as they are the proper color, strain them out by pouring the oil and shallots through a wire sieve into a metal bowl, thus capturing the shallots in the mesh and allowing the shallot infused oil in the bowl.  Gently wring the excess oil out of the shallots by pressing on them with a wooden spoon then turn them out onto a plate with a paper towel on it, spreading them out evenly. When they cool, use them as a garnish for the soup or whatever you like. Reserve the oil for some tasty application like salad dressing.