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These days of summer, walking through the farmer’s market, it’s almost unimaginable that mere months ago all that could be had were a few scraggly apples. The July market is the definition of bounty. I have a very hard time limiting myself to “necessary” items when I’m greeted with such incredible freshness but I have to remind myself that there are only two I’m cooking for, and one of them doesn’t like greens.

Incredibly, I was able to pass through and purchase only what I needed on Wednesday — dill for my pickles, carrots and tomatoes for my soup. There are so many amazing variations on carrots and beets, I just want to make rainbow salads of them. The only loose carrots I could find (since I did not need a whole bunch) were golden. A lovely pale gold. Do I sound like I’ve been drugged? Given happy pills? A little over the top, maybe, but it’s no exaggeration to say that food made from farm fresh ingredients is pretty much unbeatable. And, to the detriment of my budgeting, worth the extra money.

I got a few golden tomatoes to go with my golden carrots and set off for home with my vegetables.

As a kid, I never ate tomato soup at home. It just wasn’t something on the menu. When we ate soup with grilled cheese, it was always lentil soup — that combination still brings me directly back to childhood. I had an iffy relationship with tomatoes for a very long time. I didn’t mind tomato-based things, like spaghetti sauce, but put a tomato in my salad? Yuck. So tomato soup was out of the question, with its cloying sweet tomatoeyness, eerily smooth texture, unnaturally red color. I still can’t go anywhere near V8.

This tomato soup is completely different. You could make it with canned tomatoes, but at this time of year, why would you?

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Tomato Basil Soup
serves 3-4

5 medium tomatoes (or 4 c. diced tomatoes), peeled, seeded & chopped (to peel, drop in boiling water for a few seconds, then dunk in icy water. The skin will peel off quite easily)
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic
1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
10 basil leaves, torn or chopped
olive oil
2 T. tomato paste
red pepper flakes
salt & pepper

In a large heavy pot, add some olive oil and cook the onions, carrots and garlic for a few minutes until they begin to soften. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat the vegetables. Cook for another few minutes to develop the flavor of the tomato paste. Add the tomatoes and basil and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 10 – 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes break up. Season with salt & pepper, add a pinch of red pepper flakes (to taste) and add 1 c. water or your preferred stock. Stir and continue to cook 5 – 10 minutes until the flavors meld. Taste and season. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth (or use an immersion blender). Serve topped with more basil and a dollop of sour cream, with crusty bread or croutons.