We (my sister-in-law and I) are sitting at the kitchen table discussing how hot it’s been and reminiscing about how we braved the hot summers of our childhood.
I won’t bore you with the details of how we tried to keep cool way back when we had no air conditioning or swimming pool — o.k. so we kept cool in the mist of a garden hose when grandpa watered the garden.
What we remember most was how much we enjoyed what our mothers’ gave us to eat on those really hot summer days. In the summer mom made our favorite tomato soup from the tomatoes grown in grandpa’s garden. We had soup and sandwiches and sometimes mom even made grilled cheese and added lettuce and fresh tomato slices on Wonder Bread.
That was three generations ago, but who’s counting. Today I have no doubt you can find a cold tomato soup and grilled panini’s on the menu of any self-respecting restaurant — gourmet, health-food style, and yes even a vegetarian style restaurant.
My inspiration for many of the recipes I share are from the meals and flavors I remember from my childhood. Cooking techniques have changed which makes it easy to add more flavors and often shorten cooking times for some of the recipes I re-make.
There are several ways you can prepare this soup, but I’m taking a traditional route by sauteing my ingredients to give the soup it’s flavor. Later on in years when my mom and dad moved to Florida mom would add tomato juice for additional flavor. You can do that if you wish, or use V-8 which would add more flavors — that’s all up to you. I pass on the juice.
If you know it will be extremely hot, like 100 degrees in the shade, make a tray of soup ice cubes and freeze in the morning. That way when you are eating on the deck/patio you can add a ‘soup’ ice cube to the bowl. It keeps the soup cold longer without diluting the flavor. (My fridge makes ice so I only had heart shaped trays to freeze the soup.)
- 1-2 TBLS. olive oil
- 1 shallot chopped
- 1 large carrot peeled and diced
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 cup water or vegetable broth
- 4-6 large fresh tomatoes, cubed
- 2 TBLS. chopped fresh parsley, basil, cilantro and/or fresh oregano (your choice)
- lemon wedges
- Heat oil in stock pot and add the chopped vegetables. Saute for 3-5 minutes just until tender and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the 1 cup of liquid to the pot and simmer about 15 minutes just until the flavors blend. If the soup is too thin for you add 1-2 TBLS. tomato paste to thicken and simmer another 20 minutes. Remove from stove to cool.
- Let cool for 45 minutes, then put it all in the blender and puree until smooth. If there are too many seeds or skins pour it through a strainer or sieve.
- Refrigerate several hours until ready to serve. Sprinkle the fresh chopped herbs on top of each serving. Add lemons for taste and garnish.
This soup can be made a day ahead or in the morning before you start your day. It will be ready to serve when everyone starts singing “I’m hungry!”
Make grilled cheese sandwiches on the grill if it’s accessible — if grilling is not an option make double-decker sandwiches using 2 different cheeses and add lettuce and tomato on whole grain bread.
If everyone played nice together splurge with a pile of chips on the side for a special treat.