Friday, September 11, 2009
roasted red pepper, tomato and chard soup
1.5 lbs heirloom tomatoes (or other ripe tomatoes), roughly chopped and seeded (or 2 28 oz cans of canned tomatoes, drained)
3 roasted red peppers, seeded and roughly chopped
1/2 bunch chard, thick stems discarded and cut in a chiffonade
4 cups vegetable stock
1 onion, 1/2" dice
3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 sprig rosemary
4 sprigs thyme
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp double concentrate tomato paste
salt & pepper of course!
In an effort not to get off topic later in this post, I am going to start, well- off topic. I have read on some message boards that people really like to save their veggie scraps (stems of greens/beets, broccoli, pepper ends, etc.) for later use in making stocks. Please don't torture yourself or your loved ones by doing such a silly thing. These can be used in so many other ways; broccoli stems can be peeled and shredded in slaws, pepper ends can merely be trimmed and used in the recipe you are making or a later one, and stems of greens while good in longer cooked dishes, can and should just be composted if you aren't going to use them. Putting these things into stocks, especially cruciferous veggies and green trimmings, will only do one thing- make your stock bitter. Not to mention the discoloration that would make it less appetizing. (If you really like bitter, dark stock then please, by all means, go ahead and continue.) Traditional vegetable stock has been made the same way for ages, and I am sure that many before us had ventured to add some extras into it, only to return to the simplicity that is as the French would say the "mirepoix". Two parts of one of the members of the Allium family (onions, leeks, etc.), one part carrot, and one part celery. It just makes perfect stock, and I would like to think that if it isn't broken, we shouldn't try to fix it. In this case, the case of taste, it's good to let history and past mistakes tell us what to do.
On to the soup!
In a large soup pot over medium heat, saute the onions until translucent, about 6-7 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste and continue to cook an additional 3 minutes. Toss in the tomatoes, red peppers, and herbs (Whoa Kenny! Toss them in whole, and don't remove the tomato skin? Totes, we want to make this soup fast, so we will strain it all out later.) and cook, stirring until the tomatoes soften, about 12-14 minutes. Add the stock, pop on a lid, and go read a book for 15 minutes. When the soup starts to boil, adjust the heat to low and allow to simmer, covered for an additional 20 minutes.
Now it's time to get down to business. Remove the sprigs of herbs and use your immersion blender to blend the soup until all the chunks are removed. You will notice that it's a little thick, and if you are really hungry, or like the soup just like that- go ahead and skip this next step. Turn off the heat and using a fine mesh strainer or a chinois (I hate those things, sorry, one tried to kill me once) strain the soup into another bowl, using a spoon to help you along. Compost the leftover chunky bits that are clouding your strainer and continue until all the soup has been strained. Place the soup back into the pot, and return the heat to low. The soup will still be pretty hot, so getting it back to a simmer won't take to long. When it reaches a simmer, add the chard and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the chard is just cooked through, but still has a little bite to it. Spoon into a big bowl, grab some bread, get in your Slanket, and turn on the tube; it's time to get comfy and relax.