creamy tOmatO bisque
If I had to use one ingredient to sum up my mother’s cooking, it would have to be the tomato. Now, she made some pretty good stuff….huge meatballs, potatoes mashed with carrots and onions, beef stew (I still can’t make it like she did), Dutch pancakes and some really good rice pudding. But she made my favorite food in the middle of summer. When the sun was hot, the budget was tight, and the fresh vegetables were plentiful, Mama would make a simple meal of tomatoes and onions fried in butter and we would sop it all up with fresh bread, slathered in even more butter. If she was feeling a bit more ambitious, she would haul out the food mill and make those tomatoes into a wonderful soup with tiny little meatballs floating in it. Ahhh, the memories….
I’ll be honest with you, as an adult, I don’t make half of the things I remember Mama making. I do make the Dutch pancakes and the rice pudding. And, my daughter loves fried tomatoes and onions almost as much as I do, except that she likes it on top of her pasta. Lately, though, I’ve been experimenting a bit with tomato soup, or more precisely, tomato bisque. I found a recipe years ago that I love and I morphed it into my own version. It is really tasty and, as it uses canned tomatoes, it works well in the winter when the tomatoes in the store resemble mealy, pink baseballs. But, the other day, my friend and coworker, Brenda, was nice enough to bring me a bag of fresh tomatoes from her sister’s farm. They begged for me to use them in my tomato bisque---I was about to wing it!
This is the recipe as I made it:
Creamy Tomato Bisque
1/2 cup butter
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup flour
4 cups chicken broth (may use vegetable broth)
2 (28 oz) cans whole tomatoes, chopped with juice
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons basil
1 teaspoon tarragon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 bay leaves
2 cups light cream
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Salt to taste
Melt butter in large pot over medium/high heat. Add onions, carrots and green pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is softened. Add the flour and continue to sauté for another minute, stirring constantly. Add the chicken broth, tomatoes, sugar, basil, tarragon, cayenne pepper, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
Remove the bay leaves and, working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until almost smooth. Return the pureed soup to the pot, add the cream, paprika, curry powder and white pepper; heat the soup until it is hot, but not boiling. Salt to taste.
I wasn't really sure how to go about replacing the canned tomatoes with the fresh, so I turned to the trusty BakeSpace.com and my friend Karen suggested roasting them. So I cored 5 or 6 large tomatoes and cut them into wedges. Then I put them in a large pan, sprinkled them with some salt and pepper and a splash of olive oil and roasted them for about 40 minutes in a 425 degree oven. Then, instead of blending the bisque at the end, I used a food mill to rid my tomatoes of the skin and the seeds before I added it to the soup. Since I was out of green pepper, I used a hot pepper (also from Brenda's sister's farm), scraping out the seeds, so it wouldn't be so hot. At the end, I used the food mill again, to smooth it all out.
All I can say is wow! Next time I'll have to try some of those little meatballs, but for now a nice grilled cheese sandwich will have to do.