We live out in the country wedged between the mighty Fraser River a few minutes walk north of us and the Pacific Ocean a short drive to the west. This enviable location does come with a problem. A micro-climate with ground fog rolling across the farm lands and over my tomato plants.
There is a secret to growing tomatoes in this will-of-the-wisp summer. You plant them in big black plastic nursery pots. Then position these pots against a south wall preferably with a large overhanging roof. If you are fortunate this will give the tomatoes some protection from the heavy dew and ground fog.
The only supermarket tomatoes I buy are Campari tomatoes. Eight small tomatoes in a precious plastic box. They have real, honest-to- goodness tomato flavour. I harvested seeds from these tomatoes. Early spring I started them indoors and then transplanted the strongest into pots. I ended up with six rather straggly plants left over and no more pots. Off to the compost heap with them. Until my good husband rescued them and planted them in the garden. They grew. They grew, and grew and produced tomatoes. Better tomatoes then the plants coddled in protective pots.
The summer was unique. We had months and months of nothing but sun. The plants in the garden loved the heat. Not so the tomatoes planted in the pots. Day after day I would harvest the garden grown tomatoes. A couple of pounds of these dazzling red darlings filling my basket. The final one day harvesting of the Campari tomato plants netted over forty pounds. All from six spindly almost thrown-away plants!
This was the summer of enjoying tomatoes every day. Tomato, bacon and lettuce sandwiches (vegetables from the garden and our own bacon) – divine. Tomatoes baked in cream with thyme – sublime. And then tomato soup. Tomato soup so superb you’ll never go back to your old recipe. One big roasting pan filled with tomatoes, shallots, garlic, carrots, onion and the zinger – jalapeno chile. You roast it. Puree and then eat. FIERY ROASTED TOMATO SOUP – it just doesn’t get any better.
|FIERY ROASTED TOMATO SOUP
- 2 generous tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 6 or so medium tomatoes, left whole
- 2 shallots, diced (about a cup)
- 2 fat cloves of garlic, smashed
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 sweet onion chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 jalapeno chile, stem removed, halved
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3 to 4 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
- Sour cream and parsley for garnish
- This is one of those more or less recipes. The precise amount of vegetables is up to you but be generous with your tomatoes.
- For a less spicy soup use only half of the seeds of jalapeno chile.
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- In a large roasting pan toss together all the ingredients.
- Roast on the center rack of the oven for about 40 minutes, or until a little colour starts to show and the vegetables begin to soften. You want the vegetables to caramelize slightly. This is what gives this soup its distinctive flavour.
- Remove the pan from the oven and pour some of the stock over the vegetables. Scrap the pan to get all the brown bits up and loosen the vegetables.
- Scrap the vegetables into a sauce pan and add the rest of the stock.
- Using a hand held blender puree the soup.
- Bring the soup to the boil stirring frequently then reduce heat to a low simmer. Simmer for 5 or 10 minutes.
- Serve garnished with a little chopped parsley and sour cream