#2 Heirloom Tomato Soup
In the early-morning market Dominica and John, Pam and Yung sort arrange the ripe peaches, heirloom tomatoes, blueberries,
blackberries, raspberries and melons into row after row of dazzlingly
uniform fruit. Some days they save me the rejects.
This morning John came to the kitchen door with a Styrofoam box full
of bruised tomatoes—big beautiful green zebra, yellow lemon and deep
red fruits that greengrocers won’t sell because of the very bruises
that herald the height of their flavor.
LAUREN, HONEY, I BROUGHT YOU A CASE OF #2 HEIRLOOMS. He was out of
breath and there was a slight huffing in his faded-Brooklyn
accent. John is no young man and Matt’s is on the third floor. The
fact that he had carried the tomatoes up himself meant that he cared
a lot about those tomatoes, or me, or both.
I put down my whisk and went to examine John’s gift. The aroma made
me smile. There were a few dark bruises, and soft spots, but these
tomatoes smelled wonderful, tangy and salty and tart like mint and
lemon and smoke.
I’ll ROAST THEM FOR SOUP—THEY’RE PERFECT.
SEE, I REMEBERED YOU WANTED THEM—BRING ME DOWN A CUP OF SOUP LATER,
EH? A wink, and he was gone.
#2 Heirloom Tomato Soup
Whether from your greengrocer, garden or refrigerator, make sure to
use fruit so ripe that it has begun to soften and has a few dark
spots. Although you should cut them out, their presence means that
you are using the fruit at the very peak of its ripeness.
Preheat your oven to 425-450.
Cut your tomatoes into quarters, or smaller if you are working with
very large fruit, and place them cut side up on a sheet pan.
Coat liberally with olive oil and kosher salt on the flesh side of
the fruit and then turn them over so that the skin is facing up. Oil
and salt the skin side.
Roast for 15-20 minutes or until the tomatoes are wilted and
releasing clear liquids in the pan. Roasting the tomatoes skin side
up makes it easy to peal the skins off after you take them out of the
oven if you prefer. Personally, I love the skins, for their texture
and deep flavors. Depending on your preference and equipment, you
can either remove the skins after you take the fruit from the oven,
or leave them on and incorporate them into the soup.
Blend the roasted tomatoes until smooth. I like to use an emersion
blender because you don’t have to wait for the fruit to cool. A
regular blender or food-processor works fine, but be sure to cover
the lid and base with a cloth if your tomatoes are still hot.
Taste the soup. It almost always needs more salt and a dash of sherry or another light vinegar to balance the flavors.
Serve warm or cold, topped with a chiffonade of basil and good olive
oil. Either way, I like a bubbling cheese-topped crostini on the side.