My husband may be the love of my life, but soup is my culinary ballast, reliably providing a warm hug, asking little in return, only a bowl to hold it and a spoon to consume it. And this soup is summer’s embrace. Tuscany-in-a-bowl, serve Poppa al Pomadoro when tomatoes are at their peak: Local tomatoes should be good enough to savor straight, eaten like an apple, juice dripping down your chin. Serves 6-8
Serve hot, cold or at room temperature. Left-overs make a fabulous baguette sandwich as my daughter, Emma, discovered.
8 cups chopped, skinned & seeded summer tomatoes & their juices (see #1)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
About 1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
About 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
6 cups peasant or Italian bread, torn up (include crusts), stale or toasted (1/2 lb)
2-3 cups chicken stock or water
About 35 basil leaves, shredded or torn into small pieces
Up to 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, optional
Up to 1 teaspoon sugar, optional
Coarsely ground or cracked pepper to taste
1. Plunge about 8 tomatoes into a pot of boiling water. Remove with a slotted spoon or tongs. When they are cool enough to handle, slip off their skins. Cut in half and seed with a spoon, reserving their juices. You can seed them through a sieve if you like, letting the juices run through into a colander. Cut into wedges. You should have about 8 cups with the juices. (Note: You will need more tomatoes if you use plum tomatoes. Simply use what’s best!)
2. In a medium pot, sauté the garlic and hot chili pepper flakes in the olive oil over low heat until aromatic, about 1 minute tops. Do not brown. Add the tomatoes and salt. Cook over medium-low heat until the tomatoes render their juices, about 20 minutes, stirring periodically to break them up.
3. Add the bread and 2 cups of the chicken stock or water. Cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up the bread. Stir most of the basil, reserving the rest for garnish. Taste. If needed stir in: up to 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, up to 1 teaspoon sugar and up to 1 cup additional stock, depending on the juiciness of the tomatoes. Let rest for at least an hour before serving.
4. To serve: Taste, adding salt and cracked or coarsely ground pepper, if needed. Ladle into warm bowls. Garnish each with about a 1 teaspoon olive oil and a few leaves of torn or slivered basil. (You can stack the leaves, rolled them and slice them.)
Keep Your Local Farmers Market Alive
It’s not easy to start and sustain a farmers market. Market vitality and vendor variety depend on shoppers, and vice versa.So drop by a farmers market near you, or while you’re on the road, so they can flourish and grow.
Near me, in the small town of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, there’s the relatively new Nutrition Center’s Farmers Market. And while there are plenty of goodies tucked inside, it appears to be struggling. So, if you live nearby, get out there on Wednesdays 3-6 and buy their wonderful corn, berries and much more. The market’s at 94 West Avenue, close to the center of town, at the terrific Nutrition Center, which also hosts a Neighborhood Garden that provides land and support for community members who want to grow their own food. (A few market pictures below. Farm names listed on their website.)
Corporate doublespeak is hardly novel, but it particularly irks me when Monsanto jumps on the sustainability bandwagon for PR purposes. The main producer of terminator seeds, designed to take on ownership of the world’s farms, Monsanto uses keeps using the old argument that they intend to feed the world. We know otherwise. They intend to fill their pockets. Read about the supreme court’s recent ruling on bio-tech crops and encourage every investor you know to stay away from Monsanto and all its affiliates.