For nearly the first 14 years of my life, I was ambivalent about tomatoes. Ketchup: okay. Spaghetti sauce: definitely. Beyond that, however, I was skeptical. Salsa: maybe. Tomato juice: yuck. Tomato soup: Oh, God, why? But 25 summers ago, I spent a good portion of July and August in Denmark with my friend Egil, first at his grandmother’s apartment in Copenhagen, later at her cottage in Lokken, on the North Sea. At Lokken, we didn’t have much to do every day. The wind was strong, and the water was ice-cold. We read comic books and walked around and listened to music. And one day, I watched as Egil’s grandmother made tomato soup. It was a process both dead simple and time-consumingly elaborate. She began with approximately 25 tomatoes, bright red and as in-season as can be, each of which she cut into three pieces: one slice just to the side of the vertical axis, the remainder sliced in half. These 75 chunks went into a large stockpot along with a tablespoon (or so) of salt, and maybe 1/2 cup of water. The heat was turned to low, the cover went on, and for the next few hours, the tomatoes cooked down into a crimson slurry.
That was when the real work began. From there, we kids, along with other relatives, were employed to strain this mash through a sieve, pressing the flesh through with wooden spoons to separate out the skins and seeds and to produce a tomato liquid of surpassing smoothness. In my memory, this took hours more, although it was probably 45 minutes, tops. After all that work, I had to try it. The result was the most supple, delicious, and pure tomato soup I have ever tasted–the essence of the fruit as I’d never had it before, or since. For some reason, although I now love tomato soups (not to mention tomatoes in all their forms), I’ve never attempted to replicate Egil’s grandmother’s recipe, lodged as it is in the recesses of my brain. And I’m not sure I need to–the memory itself is enough to sustain me. You, however, are perfectly welcome to give it a shot. ( By Matt Gross from www.bonappetit.com Introduction image credit: Gentl & Hyers )
Makes 6 servings: This riff on gazpacho gets unexpected sweetness—and great color— from the addition of cherries and a peach.
- 2 pounds beefsteak tomatoes (about 4), quartered
- 1 large English hothouse cucumber, peeled, seeded, cut into pieces
- 1 large ripe peach, peeled, halved
- 1/2 jalapeño, seeded (or with seeds for a spicier soup), chopped
- 1/2 garlic clove
- 1 cup fresh (or frozen, thawed) cherries (about 8 ounces), pitted
- 2 tablespoons (or more) white balsamic or Sherry vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more
- 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
Preparation: Pulse tomatoes in a blender until finely chopped and transfer to a large bowl. Pulse cucumber, peach, jalapeño, garlic, and cherries in blender until finely chopped and add to bowl with tomatoes. Mix in vinegar, 1/4 cup oil, 1-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 cup cold water; season with pepper.
Cover and let sit at room temperature 1 hour, or chill at least 12 hours. Season soup with kosher salt, pepper, and more oil and vinegar if desired. Serve soup drizzled with oil and seasoned with sea salt and pepper. Soup can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill. ( By Michael Anthony from www.epicurious.com )