10.1.10 Mmm Mmm Good
The tomatoes just keep on coming. Every morning, G goes out to the garden to poke around, and inevitably returns with a handful of cherry tomatoes, some kale, maybe a squash, and lately the big yellow beefhearts. This week I made an Indian dal with lentil-flour flatbreads and a tomato chutney spiced with curry leaves and black mustard seeds. Tomorrow, I'm planning to serve icy cold bloody marys made with fresh tomato juice and spiked with celery bitters and horseradish. What do you make when you have a surplus of tomatoes? It's been raining for about 24 hours straight at this point, so a pot of soup is really a no-brainer. I think this creamy, dairy-free version is just what the doctor ordered.
Don't forget about all the great nutrition in tomatoes, especially organic ones. Much has been made recently of the benefits of lycopene, a carotenoid found in tomatoes (and everything made from them) that has been extensively studied for its antioxidant and cancer-preventing properties. The antioxidant function of lycopene—its ability to help protect cells and other structures in the body from oxygen damage—has been linked to the protection of DNA. It's also been shown to prevent heart disease and help protect against prostate, breast, pancreatic and intestinal cancers, especially when consumed with fat-rich foods, such as avocado, olive oil or nuts. (This is because carotenoids are fat-soluble, meaning they are absorbed into the body along with fats.) That said, try garnishing this soup with a few chopped marcona almonds or a drizzle of fruity extra-virgin olive oil. Also, feel free to vary the spicing: instead of pimentón you could use toasted, ground fennel seeds or a pinch of saffron; substitute the sherry vinegar with balsamic or a squeeze of lemon juice. You can even use a bit of bread instead of the rice. Make it as you like it, and enjoy a steaming mug of it sitting on your front stoop, the crisp fall breezes ruffling your hair. What—you live in the city? Well, it's equally good when you're curled up on the couch watching Glee. Trust me, I know.CREAMY TOMATO SOUPserves 43 tablespoons olive oil1 small onion, diced3 medium cloves garlic, minced1 bay leaf1-2 teaspoons spicy pimentón2 pounds assorted heirloom tomatoes (or one large 30 oz can), roughly chopped1 tablespoon sherry vinegar2 teaspoons brown muscovado sugar2 tablespoons uncooked white rice1-2 cups vegetable stock, preferably homemadesea salt and black pepper, to tasteHeat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat.Add the onion, garlic, bay leaf and pimenton, and sauté until the onions are translucent and soft. Add tomatoes, stir in vinegar and cook for about 15 minutes, until tomatoes are very soft. Stir in the sugar, rice and stock and bring to a boil before reducing to a simmer.Once the rice is very soft and begins to break down, remove the bay leaf. Using a hand immersion blender, mix the soup until smooth; or puree in batches in your food processor. Pass the soup through a fine mesh strainer, pressing down hard on anay solids and return to a cleaned pot.Reheat, thinning with additional stock as needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.