Last Thursday was the end of my CSA. I still have a few treks up to Hilltop Hanover Farm left before the end of 2015, but it was bittersweet choosing my last share. Its been 20 glorious weeks of amazing vegetables. As I sit here writing I think I might have made it up for almost every week, save one. Every Thursday taking the 35 minute drive up the Taconic State Parkway. Shooting off at Route 100 I wind though Millwood and Kitchawan, crossing the New Croton Reservoir and up to Yorktown Heights. It was probably mid-September I began to realize the landscape was subtly changing. By mid-October the trees looked like someone had taken huge paint brush to them with golds and reds. Mother Nature in her finest hour. My share evolved too, almost back to what I was getting in April: chilly ground vegetables like potatoes, beets and leafy greens. On this last week I did however spot a basket with some late season tomatoes. There weren’t many, but enough to for me to choose three or four nice tomatoes to bring home. I wanted to do someting with them, and with a vague memory of a tomato-potato soup I had a plan.
I have many, many cookbooks. I read them almost like reference books. Mainly looking for inspiration. One in particular that I like is called Love Soup, by Anna Thomas. She has clever combinations of ingredients to create some really lovely soups. I highly recommend this book if you are a soup lover. I will say that if you are looking for a picture cookbook, this one is not for you. There are literally no photos, only amazing collection of soup recipes that you will be very pleased to make.
I found the recipe I was remembering: Potato and Tomato Soup with Sage. I decided to first make it exactly how she describes. It was delicious of course, but a little time consuming and a lot of ingredients. My second attempt, the one I have below, is much simpler. I honestly don’t think a whole lot was lost in translation. My version is a little heaver on the potato than the tomato, but that was only because I had that ratio. Honestly, I think you can be very flexible with the ingredients. If you have a little less or more of something the overall soup will not suffer. It’s all about building your flavors to create levels of taste.
The first step is to cook the onions and garlic. Don’t rush this, you want to render out all the gorgeous flavor in the onions and get them a little caramelized before adding the tomatoes.
A note on the tomatoes: in the original recipe she blanches and peels them. I opted to leave the skin on, but I did take out the seeds.
Once the tomatoes fully release their juices and got very soft,
then I added the remaining ingredients.
For my herbs I leaned a little heavier on thyme and rosemary, but that is another option for you to decide. Sage and parsley will work very well with these ingredients, so use the combination you prefer.
With the cool weather here for the duration, a nice hearty bowl of soup will always hit the spot.
A quick note on my last cooking class at Hilltop Hanover for the year. On Sunday November 15 I will be giving the venerable side dish a little make-over. Click this link for more details: Rescuing the Thanksgiving Side Dish. The class is filling up so make your reservation soon.
Late Season Tomato and Potato Soup
1 medium red onion, 1″ dice, about 1 cup
2 fat or 4 regular garlic cloves, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Ground black pepper
Pinch of red chili flakes, optional
1 1/4 lb tomato, cored, seeds removed and chopped
2 lbs potato, peeled and diced in 1″ pieces
1 bay leaf
2 stems of fresh thyme
1 quart unsalted vegetable broth, or water and Low Sodium Better than Bouillon Organic Vegetable Base
1 tablespoon each of chopped rosemary, sage and thyme
Fresh parsley for garnish
1. In a heavy bottom soup pot sauté the onion and garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a half teaspoon each of salt and pepper and a pinch of chili flakes if using. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onions get soft and take on a little brown color.
2. Add in the tomatoes with another half teaspoon of salt and cook for about 5 minutes. The tomatoes should be falling apart and very juicy.
3. Add the potatoes, bay leaf, thyme branches, 3 cups of stock, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. bring to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. You want the potatoes to be very soft.
4. Once the potatoes are soft take the soup off the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and thyme stems and add in the remaining fresh herbs. In batches puree in a high speed blender. Be very careful during this step. Secure the lid tightly and cover with a kitchen towel. Use the remaining cup of stock to thin out the soup. If necessary use additional water. Taste for seasoning.
5. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a little chopped fresh parsley.
Cook’s note: the smaller you cut the potatoes, the faster they cook. Just take care to make them all the same size