Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Basil-Tomato Soup

Ok, first of all, I finally, finally got around to changing the "about me" section to something that I think sums this blog up better. And it's shorter too, which I think is usually better. I tried many times before to come up with something I liked, but never could. Until now.
Yay, me.

I'm actually a lot more excited about the photos in today's post than I am the soup. Don't get me wrong, I love the soup, and it's very good indeed, but lately it seems that every photo I take, no matter what it's of, has been just plain crappy. Most of the time they need heavy Photoshop treatment just to look somewhat presentable. But these photos of the basil and oregano came out beautiful! No editing required! (Other than to resize.) All of the basil and oregano used in today's soup came from my little container garden out on the front porch. I also planted about 4 dozen tomato plants this summer (slightly too much), so there's a few of my very first tomato, too. The photo quality on those isn't so great, but I put most of the blame on the ISO 400 film I used.

Ok, since the recipe is pretty short and sweet, let's do that first, then the lovely basil/oregano photos.


Canned tomatoes (crushed, filleted, diced, shaken, or stirred. Whatever floats your boat.)
Half and half
Unsalted butter
Fresh oregano
Fresh basil
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Crushed red pepper
A lemon
Fish sauce

Now what I normally do is just throw it all in a pot and keep adding stuff according to taste (like most recipes tell you to do with salt/pepper, right? ). Well, except for the lemon- you're only going to need that for the zest. But tonight I actually came up with sort of a recipe for this one. As always, think of it more as just a list of ingredients to play around with, than an actual recipe to follow. But it goes like this:

1 28 oz can tomatoes (I like taking diced tomatoes, and partially whipping them up in the food processor. Some people like their basil-tomato soup chunky, others like it smooth. I'm in the middle.)
3/4 stick unsalted butter
Half and half (I don't have an amount on this one- not only did I forget to measure, but I didn't even have any half and half, so I used heavy cream and 2% milk. But it really doesn't matter, since you just add until you reach your desired lightness of color. Oh, and unless you really don't like dairy or whatever, I'd really recommend not skipping this part. Milk or cream isn't something I use in regular tomato soup [i.e. canned], but it works quite nicely in this.)
2 1/2 cups (pre-chop) fresh oregano
2-4 cups (pre-chop) fresh basil
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Crushed red pepper
Fish sauce
Zest of 1 lemon

Add the tomatoes, butter, and half and half to the pot, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste. (I used about a teaspoon each), a few dashes of the fish sauce (I never measure that stuff), and all that wonderful oregano. It seems like a lot, I know, but I really did use that much for this. It might have even been closer to three cups. Fresh oregano is a beautiful thing. Dried will work for this soup too, if that's all you have, but whatever you do, don't used dried basil- it's just not the same. While that's simmering away, chop up the basil and zest that lemon. I tend to go very heavy on the basil, myself, which is why I call this Basil-Tomato soup, instead of the other way around, like most people. Add the basil about two minutes before you pull the soup from the stove, and the lemon zest just after. I have to say, the crushed red pepper and lemon zest were not originally my idea- I read about a marinara recipe on somebody else's food blog awhile back, (at least, I think it was a marinara recipe- I can't remember), and that's what she did. So I tried it with this soup, and have been making it this way ever since. If I could remember who's food blog it was, I'd surely name it here, but I can't. I'd probably remember if I heard the name, so if that person happens to be reading this, let me know and I'll give you proper credit.

On to the photos!

and my first tomato...

The final product...

I don't know exactly how much basil I used for that garnish, but I really do use that much- it wasn't just for the photo- and was it ever tasty! : )

P.S. I wish I had the photos I took of the oregano when it first sprouted- you wouldn't believe how small those things are! (I took several pics, but for the life of me, can't find them anywhere.) Makes it challenging to water them, as the water tends to flatten the tiny sprouts- even using a spray bottle on fine mist. Normally I'd have watered them from the bottom, but I planted them in a self-watering pot that was about 7 inches deep, and I found it easier just to top-water them. The seeds themselves are so tiny you almost need a magnifying glass to see them. As I remember, they're about the size of the period at the end of this sentence.

No comments: