What better way to kick off winter comfort food season than with that old fan favorite, basic tomato soup?
A truly great sendoff for even the most overripe of tomatoes, this vibrant soup is the perfect backdrop for cream, yogurt, grilled cheese, crackers, croutons, etc…but can also stand on its own.
Basic Tomato Soup with Herb Puree–Tomato Soup From Scratch!
Stewed, reduced tomatoes become a medium of sweet, tangy umami. Add some sautéed onions, some fat, and some time: and boom, you’ve got a delicious–and beautifully simple–soup.
I cooked the tomatoes with sautéed onions and roasted poblanos in olive oil until some of the tomato juice had reduced, about 30 minutes.
After pureeing the cooked veggies in a blender and tasting to season with salt and pepper, I decided to get to work on the herb puree.
This puree became sort of a catchall for herbs and greens I already had on hand, so many substitutions or omissions could be made in terms of the greenery–after all, not everyone saves their carrot tops for just such an occasion!
This puree integrates beautifully into this simple soup and offers an aromatic freshness to the buxom flavor of stewed tomatoes. Needless to say, I ate this bowl of hot soup straight from the blender within minutes.
Basic Tomato Soup with Herb Puree
10-12 medium tomatoes, stemmed and cut into 1” chunks
3 medium poblano peppers
1 medium onion, diced
2 Tbs + 4 Tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch parsley, stems removed
1 bunch carrot tops
2 cloves fresh garlic
1 Tbs capers, drained
1 anchovy filet
Juice of ½ lemon
½ c quality olive oil + more as needed
Salt, to taste
Roll poblano peppers in first measurement of oil and place on a baking sheet. Broil in the oven on high until skins are blistered and charred, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside until cool.
Add second measurement of olive oil to a heavy bottomed pot with salt, pepper, and onions. Sautee until onions over medium heat until they are translucent and tender, 10-15 minutes. Add cut tomatoes and turn heat to medium low, stirring occasionally to prevent the tomatoes for sticking. You are looking for some of the liquid to be reduced, about 30 minutes.
While tomatoes are stewing, remove the stem and seeds from the roasted poblanos. Dice the peppers and add to the cooking tomatoes.
After 30 minutes has elapsed and soup is of desirable thickness, puree everything in a blender or food processor until smooth.
Set soup aside in a large, preheated serving bowl. Combine all of the ingredients into the rinsed out blender or food processor and puree until smooth. You may require more than ½ c olive oil to achieve this, depending on the size of the herb bundles.
Serve the soup hot with a generous scoop of herb puree, or yogurt, or both. Croutons or grilled cheese are advisable.
Not to brag, but I’m pretty sure I got the last few peaches of the season from my local farm stand. After a little bit of dreaming about all the flavors that play nice with peaches, I arrived at this whiskey peach bread pudding recipe–an homage to summer’s end!
I showed up at the farm stand looking for the last of summer’s beautiful stone fruits, not quite ready to say goodbye to the sun just yet…I browsed the boxes of produce laid out under their red and white striped tent, snatching up some beautiful Italian plums and passing up the apples and pears. (There will be many weeks of apples and pears to come. Julia Child’s pear tart is on my mind, but that won’t feel right until mid-to-late November, at the soonest. For now, let me cling to summer like I’m clinging to my 20s.)
Thinking Yakima’s peaches were a thing of the past, I made my way to the checkout counter with my plums.
“You don’t happen to have any peaches, do you?”
The friendly young cowboy in the cream-colored hat and tight t-shirt shook his head no. I thought not, I confirmed in my head, Summer must really be over…
But peaches (and maybe summer, too) hadn’t given up on me yet! Another associate from the farm who was stocking pickled veggies of various assortments chimed in–
“We have about four or five left in that far box over there!”
It was true: tucked into the low corners of these deep boxes were a few perfectly imperfect seasonal stragglers.
Containing a whoop and a holler, I snatched up these sweet rays of sunshine and paid for my flavored fructose. Now, what to do with these oddballs…
After recently making a dang delicious plum pie, I decided pie should be out of the picture. I’d already made peach cobbler this season, so that didn’t quite feel appropriate either. Then, I remembered the about-to-mold bread I’d stuffed in the freezer last week. Bread pudding it is, I thought.
Whiskey Peach Bread Pudding
When I think peaches, I think cream, honey, vanilla, almond, and whiskey. Why not add a few friends to the bread pudding party?
I made ginger simple syrup, the whiskey custard, cut my beautiful peaches, and tore my thawed bread into chunks.
I soaked the bread and peach mixture in milky custard and applied some “secret surprise creme fraiche” to the middle of the pudding.
Baked, brushed with simple syrup for a little sheen, then baked some more:
Obviously I had to eat this with some less-than-secret creme fraiche too.
Whiskey Peach Bread Pudding
Note: In the past, I have made this pudding using sourdough bread with excellent results. Whole wheat or rye would also be delicious, but the simpler the bread, the more your peaches will stand out. I have also subbed oat milk for regular milk which worked beautifully. The orange zest and ginger syrup are optional, but they both contribute to the desired complexity of this dish. I enjoy cutting my peach chunks into a variety of shapes and sizes, but if you prefer a more uniform dish, feel free to cut them as close to identical as you like.
1 c water
1 c sugar
1” or 0.5 oz peeled ginger, cut into matchsticks
2 Tbs whiskey
Butter for baking dish
2 c whole milk or alternative milk
½ c sugar
½ tsp salt
1 vanilla bean, split down the middle with seeds scraped out, 1 tsp vanilla bean paste, or 1 tsp vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 large orange (optional)
4 Tbs whiskey
3 large eggs, beaten
6 c bread, torn into ragged chunks
2-3 c peaches (about 2 large peaches), skin on, cut into 1-2 inch chunks or slices
¼ c creme fraiche
Generously butter a bread pan and set aside.
Bring water, first measurement of sugar, and ginger matchsticks to a gentle boil. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until syrup has gained viscosity and ginger flavor. Stick a teaspoon into the syrup after 3 minutes; it should appear thicker than water and coat the spoon nicely. Keep boiling until syrup is of a similar consistency to maple syrup, but no more than 10 minutes. When syrup is of desired consistency, remove from heat and stir in first measurement of whiskey. Strain mixture into a jar or bowl using a fine sieve, chinois, or cheesecloth placed over a colander and let cool.
Place milk, sugar, and vanilla bean and seeds in a saucepan over medium heat until it is at a bare simmer. Remove from heat and add optional orange zest, and salt. Set aside for 10 minutes, or until you can place your hands on the walls of the sauce pot without burning yourself. Add 4 Tbs whiskey and stir. When the mixture is tepid (or room temperature) to the touch, whisk in blended eggs.
Heat oven to 350°F. Place bread and peach chunks and slices into a large bowl. Pour milk mixture over the top and let soak 15-20 minutes, gently stirring after 10 minutes with a wooden spoon or your hands.
Spoon half of the bread and peach mixture into the prepared bread pan. Dab the surface of the mixture with creme fraiche in teaspoon-sized spoonfuls. Pour the rest of the bread over the top and bake 20 minutes. Remove from oven and brush the top with whisky-ginger syrup until the entire pudding is covered in glaze. Bake 10-20 minutes more, or until bread has started to take on a golden color and peaches on the surface of the pudding begin to blacken.
Let sit at least 30 minutes to cool before cutting and serving. Best with a dollop of yogurt, creme fraiche, or vanilla ice cream.
Well, it’s my “Sunday” today. Which means, of course, that I had to go to the farmer’s market over the “weekend” before heading back to “work.” I don’t even want to tell you how much of my paycheck I drop on fresh produce…but when put towards efforts like this slightly savory rye plum pie, I find it’s often worth it to splurge.
While I bravely abstained from buying another “happy” local chicken, I definitely ended up purchasing some mushrooms “by mistake.” Oysters. Plus, the kindly mushroom vendor slipped in a king trumpet, on the house! I’ve got the beginnings of a mushroom charcuterie board over here…but I don’t want to get any harebrained ideas. I’ll just stick to sautéing them in butter and pouring them over grains, meat, or pasta like everyone else.
After recently making plum preserves out of some of the most beautiful empress plums I have ever beheld, I’ve been feeling, well, reallyinto plums.
Be honest with yourself: when was the last time you really savored biting into a plum? That tender, juicy, incredibly sweet flesh coupled with a tangy, sour exterior? And that frosted purple skin? I mean, come on! Nature’s just laughing all the way to the bank with that one.
Or at least, the fruit vendors are every time I come around…I snagged some grapes as I was checking out like someone might snag a candy bar at the grocery store. Sugar is sugar, I guess.
I pondered what to make of these gorgeous darlings for a while before finally settling on pie. But to make things a little more interesting, I decided to bring rye flour to the party.
If the thought of rye flour makes you sweat, or you’d rather not buy a $30 bag of flour to use once and never again, substitute for whole wheat or all-purpose flour. I chose rye for its aromatic, slightly nutty qualities. Getting a whiff of this pie as it’s coming into life in the oven is a true treat, and gives your senses something to ponder until it’s time, at last, to eat.
Slightly Savory Rye Plum Pie
First, I mixed up the dough using equal parts rye and all-purpose flours, salt, a little sugar, butter, and water. This I let chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
I then washed the plums and cut them into uneven chunks (I like a little variety in each slice). I tossed these in a bowl with sugar, vanilla paste, orange juice, and a pinch of salt.
I rolled out half of the chilled dough on a floured surface. The rye flour makes this crust a little more prone to breaking than straight all-purpose flour, so I rolled the thin crust in my rolling pin and eased it over the pie plate.
I got a new rolling crinkle cutter toy from the kitchen store, and was very excited to put it to use!
Paint your beautiful, beautiful pie with egg wash, then it’s off to the races! Your home is about to smell amazing.
Use up these plums while they’re around, people! Your taste buds will thank you, and so will your local source.
Slightly Savory Rye Plum Pie
1 ½ c all-purpose flour
1 ½ c rye flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs sugar
1 c butter (two sticks)
½ c + 1 Tbs cold water
2 lbs plums, cut into varying sized chunks (skin on)
1/3 c brown sugar (light or dark)
¼ c all-purpose flour or white rice flour
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1 tsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice or orange juice
1 three-fingered pinch of salt
4 Tbs butter, for dotting the top of fruit
1 egg, beaten
Splash of heavy cream (optional)
1 Tbs finishing sugar, like demerara, turbinado, or another large-crystal sugar
1-2 pinches large flaked salt (optional)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix dry ingredients for crust in a large bowl with a fork or a whisk. Cut butter into small chunks and incorporate with a pastry cutter or with your fingers. (Alternatively, use a cheese grater on its largest “setting” to break butter into small, uniform pieces and mix into the flour.) Add the water ¼ cup at a time and mix with your hands until dough comes together. Divide dough unto two even pieces, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge at least 20 minutes.
Cut plums into chunks of desired size, leaving the skins on, and place in another large bowl. Add brown sugar, flour, vanilla, fruit juice, and salt, and mix gently with your hands or a spatula or wooden spoon. Let the fruit juices sit in the sugar at least 10 minutes.
Roll out half of dough while fruit is macerating. Line a shallow pie dish, and add fruit when 10 minutes have passed, scraping out all the juice and sugar from the fruit bowl with a spatula. Dot the fruit with second measurement of butter, evenly distributing over the surface. Roll out second half of dough and place over the top of the fruit, creating a lattice if desired. Pinch the edges of the two pieces of rolled out dough together until a recognizable outer crust forms. (Alternatively, crimp edges with a fork and cover with foil, leaving the center of the pie uncovered.)
Beat egg in a small bowl and add cream, if using. Using a pastry brush, spread egg mixture over the top crust, coating all visible surfaces. Sprinkle finishing sugar over the crust and optional salt.
Bake 45 minutes-1 hour, tenting with foil for the last 20 minutes if desired to prevent crust from getting too dark. If you are worried about the pie bubbling over and sending molten sugar to burn on the bottom of your oven, place a cookie sheet underneath the pie tin. You want the fruit filling to bubble in order to cook the flour; this ensures the insides of your pie will thicken and set.
Let the pie cool at least 20 minutes before cutting into it. Enjoy with plain coconut milk or goat milk ice cream, whipped cream or coconut cream, yogurt, or sour cream or sweetened with a touch of honey.