Weekend Kitchen: A great way to use your bad tomatoes

Soup

By Julia Westhoff

Is anyone else’s garden going haywire right now? My friend Morgan just harvested her first watermelon of the season. My friend Jenny is just now getting eggplant. And we finally, finally have some red tomatoes. The problem? They’re not very good. Hard, mealy and somewhat tasteless, I left them on the counter for days trying to figure out what to do with them.

Enter this recipe. It’s a creamy, flavorful tomato soup that I am quite sure will be a new standard in our kitchen. Perfectly paired with grilled cheese on a cool night and good enough that my husband [Editor’s note: That’s me!] went back for more three times.

Creamy Tomato Soup
Adapted from Ina Garten

Ingredients
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped red onions (2 onions)
2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (5 large)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 tablespoon dried basil
3 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1 lemon

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and sauté for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.

Add the cream to the soup and process it through a food mill into a bowl, discarding the dry pulp that’s left. Reheat the soup over low heat just until hot and finish by squeezing in some fresh lemon juice to taste, along with salt and pepper.

A couple of notes: If you don’t have a food mill I think you could probably just push the soup through a colander and get similar results. If the recipe comes out too thin for your liking, thicken it up with some more tomato paste and some stale bread (soak the bread in a cup of soup, blend until smooth, and add back into the pot).