Saturday, September 10, 2011

Recipe for Five Garden Tomato Basil Soup

1.      Buy four Oxheart tomato plants from a chatty patient's wife who claims they are from an heirloom plant that originated in Sicily.
2.      Gather the supplies you will need to foster plant life in a tiny urban backyard devastated by the three-foot snows of late winter in early 2010: potting soil with fertilizer, large pots.
3.      Discover you don't have enough space in one giant fiberglass planter to sustain four plants (or rather, have your visiting mother point this out to you, because at this point agriculture is still The Great Unknown).
4.      Give the remaining three plants to your neighbors.
5.      Nestle the seedling in your huge pot, all the while arguing with your mother about whether the plant will get enough drainage and sun and water and whether it will grow large enough to ever possibly need the three-foot tall wire cage support that dwarfs it now.
6.      Water it.
7.      And wait.
8.     Watch the plant grow tall, your heart lifting with pride and joy.  Smile a little to yourself when you’re at work and you stop to think about the tomato blossoms.
9.      Watch your neighbors' tomato plants grow full, their baby tomatoes like clusters of shelled peas among the dark green leaves.
10.  Worry a little bit.
11.   Look at your tomato plant with resentment.
12.  Have your mother rebuke you for yelling at your tomato plant.  (“No wonder it's not growing well with the way you talk to it!”)
13.  Freak out about the dark brown stain spreading from the blossom-end on the baby tomatoes.
14.  Google “Tomato Blight.”
15.   Ask your mother to sprinkle crushed up egg shells on the soil and pray the calcium will be absorbed quickly.
16.  Cut off all of the infected green tomatoes and throw them in a corner by the garage steps, so your plant can see the corpses of those who have chosen the wrong path in their tomato life.
17.   Punish your plant by not watering it.
18.  Listen to your mother nag you about watering your plant.
19.  Ask your tomato plant why it can't be more like your herbs.  They grow like weeds with little care and only minimal attention.
20. Cull another round of blighty tomatoes.
21.  Harvest the first deformed fruit of your labor.  Have your mother try it, because you don't eat raw tomatoes.
22. Humbly accept a handful of large, ripe, show-offy tomatoes from your neighbors.
23. Gratefully take a bag of San Remo tomatoes from your coworker.
24. Decide to make soup.
25.  Beg for tomatoes from another coworker.
26. Pick Roma tomatoes from your aunt's plants that are so loaded with fruit that they have collapsed under the weight.  Mutter disgruntedly as you fill a reusable shopping tote with ripe tomatoes.
27.  Remove any remaining stems from 3-4 lbs of tomatoes (your plants only contribute four small tomatoes to the pile, try not to weep).
28. Quarter the large tomatoes, halve the small tomatoes (leave any Grape tomatoes whole). 
29. Throw all into a huge stock pot that your best friend bought you for Christmas and haven't used until today because you've almost given up on cooking.
30. Stew tomatoes for 1-2 hours, until soupy.
31.  Transfer tomatoes into a blender, add a fistful of fresh basil.  (You may have to make 2 or more separate batches depending on the amount of tomatoes you've grown/accepted/stolen.)
32.  Puree.  Secretly rejoice that the tomatoes are finally getting what's coming to them.
33. Transfer back to the pot.
34. Add 2 tablespoons of butter.  Or the whole stick.  You deserve it by now.
35.  Add 1-2 cups of heavy cream.
36. Add salt and pepper to taste.
37.  Serve hot with bread (brush thick slices of baguette with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and toast under the broiler) or just stand over the counter and suck soup from the ladle.
38. Take a Rubbermaid container full of soup to your mother.
39. And thank her.

Reason I Didn't Write Yesterday: Lobster Fishing


  1. :-) Love the photo! Hope you don't mind, but I shared this post on my Facebook profile.

  2. Love this post, Hannah! But now I am starving for this soup!!