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September 2005 Issue
Tomatoes
by J. Sinclair
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It's September and that means that I'm up to my armpits in tomatoes! Every year, I add another variety to my favorite tomato patch and end up with more than I know what to do with. Inevitably, I end up roasting pan after pan of them and freezing some to be added to everything from sauces to relish to hot pasta when the winter weather has made finding a good tomato next to impossible!

While tomatoes are often associated with Italian cooking, they weren't introduced until the early 1500s when Spaniards brought them back from their adventures in the New World. They are actually native to the Andes region of Chile, Columbia, Bolivia and Peru, although they were likely first domesticated in Mexico. Today, they are featured in cuisines from all over the world and the typical American enjoys over 80 pounds a year!

And they should be enjoyed. A typical cup of chopped tomatoes contains a mere 35 calories and a lot of nutritional content ... everything from vitamin C to lycopene, a nutrient thought to help ward off prostate cancer. Enjoy them fresh, roasted, sautéed, braised, baked and broiled ... and everything in between! This time of the year, perhaps one of the best ways to enjoy them is right off the vine and over the sink so the warm juices don't make a mess on the floor!!!

 

Roasted Tomato Soup

This wonderful soup is a perfect mate to a hot grilled cheese sandwich. Enjoy its sweet, smoky flavor as fall starts to show its colors.
  • 3 lbs. ripe tomatoes -- cored, halved and seeded
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 red onions -- chopped
  • 1 garlic clove -- minced
  • 3 c. vegetable stock
  • 3 T. fresh basil -- chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the broiler. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Place the tomatoes on the baking sheet, cut side down. Broil the tomatoes until their skins are blistered, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Slip off the skins and chop the tomatoes coarsely.

Meanwhile, in a medium-sized saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until the onions are very soft, about 5 minutes longer. Stir in the prepared tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Blend the soup with an immersion blender until smooth (or transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender and process until smooth; return to the saucepan). Stir in the stock and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil. Season with the salt and pepper. The soup can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator, for up to 2 days.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 40 minutes
 

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