The season is changing: I can taste it in the air. The nights are getting cool yet the days are still warm. The daylight hours are shortening; the light is mellowing; the air is crisper. The leaves on the trees are subtly goldening – soon to burnish or russet. The dew sparkles again in the early morning grass; soon there will be mist in the morning. Soon the geese will honk overhead, soon birds will gather to go south.
The colchicums raise up their rosy goblets to the sky; the cyclamens nod gently. The bees are buzzing in the goldenrods and the asters – their last chance to gather nectar and pollen in quantity before frost does away with the flowers.
Golden-fingered Autumn is here.
Lots to do in the garden, from transplanting the lettuces and the kales, to bundling the cardoons for blanching, from sowing the rocket-salad to digging the potatoes. And…weeding – always – and picking, picking, picking: peppers, okras, tomatoes, tomatillos, carrots, beets, the late corn and the last of the green beans. Tomato fatigue has settled. But with cool nights, it’s time again for warm soups! It’s time to reawaken those taste buds to the goodness of tomatoes with a mellow Early Fall Tomato Soup that’s perfect for a light dinner on a cool night, maybe with toasted bread and blue cheese, followed by poached pears or an upside-down apple cake. Or for lunch with a grilled cheese sandwich.
You can use any and all tomatoes in this soup. It does not matter: big ones, small ones, slicing/salad, paste/plum, cherry tomatoes: it’s a good way to use those late summer tomatoes or those damaged ones: just cut away the pad part and throw them all in the pot. If you use both red and yellow tomatoes, the soup will be less red than shown on the picture.
The recipe calls for whole milk, but you can substitute skim milk if you want to limit fats in the recipe; or, on the contrary, replace some of the milk by cream if you want a richer soup. I have even made it with the whey left after making mozzarella: a good technique not to waste this cheese by-product.
The recipe is easy to divide or increase. The soup also freezes well. Just do not add the milk if you are freezing. After you thaw the soup, then add the milk and warm to the desired temperature.
Early Fall Tomato Soup
Yields: about 2 to 2 1/2 quarts, enough for 4 to 6 as a main course.
- 3 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 large yellow onions
- 2 pounds tomatoes
- 2 potatoes, preferably organic
- 1 cup water
- 3 cups milk (or more to taste). I prefer whole milk
- Salt to taste
- a few basil leaves for decoration
Peel & slice the onions.
Heat up oil in a large Dutch-oven pan (medium heat). Add onions, and sautéed until soft, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching (see Note 1). Add a little more oil if necessary or adjust stove temperature.
Meanwhile, core tomatoes, and chop in large chunks. Thoroughly wash potatoes and dice (see Note 2).
Add tomatoes & potatoes to the pot. Add the water. Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender – about 20/25 minutes.
Puree soup in blender until smooth in small batches - careful not to overload the blender and not burn yourself with the hot liquid. Use a little milk to thin as puréeing, if needed.
Put puréed soup back into pot. Add milk until desired consistency is reached. Salt to taste. Heat until hot.
Shred basil leaves finely.
Ladle soup into soup bowls. Sprinkle basil on top. Serve immediately. Delicious with grilled cheese sandwich or with toasted bread and blue cheese
Note 1: I got “distracted” while cooking this batch, so the onions browned, darker than I care. When blended, they’ll give a stronger taste and little flecks of black in the soup (as seen on the picture) – not unattractive actually.
Note 2: I do not peel the potatoes, as a lot of nutrients are right under the skin. I grow my own, so I know that no pesticide, herbicide or synthetic fertilizers were used. Seek organic potatoes, or, otherwise, peel them if you are concerned about pesticide residues.