Tuesday, March 30, 2010

winter tomatoes

In the earliest days of spring, we only dream of summer tomatoes. This coming Saturday we will learn more about local heirloom tomatoes.

This evening I sat down with my son for a dinner of stale bread and canned tomatoes. This sounds rather stark and reminiscent of depression era frugality, but was prompted by a half loaf of stale sourdough bread. There are many recipes in Italy that make use of day old - or week old - bread. The recipe consulted uses fresh tomatoes - unavailable this time of year even here in California, the vegetable basket of the country. A substitution of a 1lb 12oz can of San Marzano tomatoes worked perfectly. I got the idea here at Sweet Amandine, in a post/recipe about the simplest tomato soup. The cookbook I consulted was one of my favorites, Italy: the Beautiful Cookbook.

As we waited for the soup to simmer, we talked of poetry. My son seemed more and more enthused by the aroma of the soup - and when we finally got to eat it, he went for thirds, apologizing for no leftovers. He also took the book of poetry back to his lair to study at his leisure.

Tomato and stale bread soup

3 cloves garlic, diced fine
2 tbsp. fresh sage leaves, finely minced
1 tbsp. fresh oregano, finely minced
3 tbsp. fresh basil, finely minced
1/2 c. olive oil
8 oz. stale bread, sliced
5-6 c. homemade chicken stock
1 lb. 12 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes
1/2 glass red wine
salt and pepper to taste
grated Romano Cheese and minced basil for garnish

Heat olive oil over medium heat, add garlic and herbs and saute till fragrant. Add bread and stir to heat and absorb olive oil. Remove from heat and place bread slices on broiler tray; broil till lightly browned, put back in soup pot. Heat stock in separate pot to add to soup. Place tomatoes in large bowl; use immersion blender to lightly blend, leave plenty of chunks. Add bread and tomatoes to soup pot, raise heat to medium. Add 4 c. heated stock, more if thinner soup is desired. Add 1/2 glass wine, taste for seasoning. Simmer 15-20 minutes. Blend in basil, garnish each bowl with cheese.

My son thinks this would be outstanding with a huge meatball in the middle!

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