Fresh food, fast! Tomato basil soup

I am a huge fan of soups and right about now we have plenty of yummy ingredients showing up at farmers markets and supermarkets.  Here is a soup that will be in your bowl in 15 min.  

Again, when I do my food posts, I call them my no recipe/recipe.  You decide the quantities:) It’s not rocket science, contrary to so many cooking shows…cooking is free form, unlike baking.  It is an art.

Gather up your ingredients: 4 fresh large tomatoes (or if you are stuck, canned), 1 small onion, fresh basil, 1 carrot, 1/2 cup of veg.stock (or water)

Core tomatoes and chop coarsely

Chop coarsely onion and carrot

Sautee onion and carrot in a glug or two of olive oil for about 5 min….they shouldn’t drown, just be allowed to glide around

Add tomatoes and veg.stock.  Bring to a boil, then turn to med/low for 15 minutes.  All you are doing is allowing the carrot to cook through.  If you like your soup thick, just simmer a little longer and the extra water will evaporate out of the soup.

Remove from stove and either use a hand blender right in the pot, or use food processor(do small batches, so you are not overheating the vessel), or pass through a food mill.  All work, all give different textures, and all vary in time required to use and clean.  I love to use the hand blender because it is so easy to use and clean.

Puree until desired consistency.  Throw in a good bunch of basil and pulse to combine.  If you like, you can add a little bit of 35% cream.

Serve in bowl with sprig of basil to garnish.  I still eat mine the way I ate it as a kid…a whole bunch of crackers in the bottom of the bowl, with soup over top.  Yummmmmm!

SECRET* The secret ingredient to this soup is the addition of the carrot.  Carrots contain natural sugars that reveal when cooked, that’s why roasted carrots are so delicious.  The carrots add an element to the soup that softens the acidity of the tomatoes and naturally sweetens.  I learned this from an Italian friend:)…ps. use carrots in you tomato sauce as well, it makes the sauce soooo rich tasting.




PS. substitution:  use rosemary instead of basil, but because of its natural intensity, throw it into the pot when sweating onions and carrot.


Fresh Food, Fast: Easy Summer Pasta

One can’t help but be giddy(if you are a foodie!) with market offerings as spring rolls into summer.  Now delivering week after week, richly nutritious, psychedelic fruits and vegetables.  You don’t have to do much to make beautiful food when we have access to such valuable fuel.

Here is a fast and easy pasta dish, that as you can see is all about the veggies.
Ingredients: peas, heirloom tomatoes, kale, onions, garlic, green olive tapenade, bacon, and whole wheat spaghetti.
Method: I cook my pasta for about 6 min. in salted water;  so that it has a bite to it, but will still hold up for a few minutes at the end, when it gets re-introduced to the main ingredients. p.s….cooking in salted water adds great uniform flavour to the pasta .
Mise en place:(pronounced meez en plas) everything in place.  I like to have my ingredients close so that I don’t forget anything.
At this point I have just introduced the onions, garlic, bacon and kale to the pan with olive oil.  I have the stove on medium heat.  Once there is nice heat, I turn it down to med-low, add a glug of olive oil if necessary, then put a lid on.  This allows the kale to steam.

I throw the tomatoes, tapenade, pasta and peas in, more to warm up slightly than to cook…another 4-5 min on med/low.

I used lots of peas, but you can vary the quantity of each ingredient as to your preference.  There is so much texture and freshness in this dish, with of course, a little smokey boost from the bacon.

This is why I love cooking so much, it is deeply personal to the cook and for those they feed.  There are few rules in cooking, but all will agree that food tastes better when prepared with gratitude and love for the offerings and for those we choose to share it with.  It is no wonder that breaking bread is a spiritual endeavour.