Most weeks at the farmer’s market, I buy tomatoes when they’re in season (which is most of the year around here; eating seasonally has a whole different meaning in Southern California). Recently, I’ve seen not only the standard Roma and Beefsteak tomatoes, but also a variety of heirloom tomatoes. Normally, I buy the Romas and make a tomato sauce out of them. This week, though, the heirlooms were calling my name. It didn’t hurt that one stand was selling them for only $2.00 per pound.
Our farmer’s market is on Sunday and, sadly, two of the smaller tomatoes didn’t make it until Thursday. At that point, it became imperative to actually eat them and not allow them to slowly explode on our counter top.
I had met Angela for lunch on Thursday so a lighter and simpler dinner was in order. I had originally thought about making pappa al pomodoro but the leftover bread was too far gone to resuscitate (and there wasn’t much left). Instead, I decided to just make a simple tomato soup.
This isn’t the first tomato soup I’ve made but, despite some similar ingredients, this is rather different. This is a lot simple and is much more centered around the flavor of ripe tomatoes. Last night, the simple flavors worked very well.
We also discovered that Angela and I prefer different levels of salt in this dish: her more, me less. This is a bit unusual as I usually like my food a little more well seasoned than she does. So make sure you taste for seasoning before serving.
There’s no requirement to use heirloom tomatoes in this soup but I can’t help to think that it fits the spirit of the dish better. But, really, whatever is fresh and ripe.
Heirloom Tomato Soup
Adapted from The Art of Simple Food
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, sliced
1 small leek, white and pale green part sliced
2 garlic gloves, peeled and sliced
2 lbs tomatoes
1 tbsp white rice
1/2 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 cup water
- In a large sauce pan, melt 1 tbsp butter with the olive oil. Add the onions and leeks and a large pinch of salt and sweat until they’re softened, about 10 minutes. Do not allow them to brown.
- Add the garlic and sweat for 2 minutes more.
- Add the tomatoes, rice, bay leaf, thyme, and a large pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat until the tomatoes begin to fall apart, about 10 minutes.
- Add the water and remaining 1 tbsp butter. Simmer for 10 more minutes.
- Purée in a blender for 1 minute in batches. Push the soup through a medium strainer.
- Taste for seasoning and reheat if needed. Serve topped with crutons and a drizzle of olive oil.
Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as an appetizer.