March: She is a sultry, wanton wench with her come hither dance toward Spring as she promises warm breezes and sunny skies then slams the door in your face just as you begin to lose yourself in her lies.
March's ritual of a day of sun followed by four days of rain, repeat, keeps my food hankerings in a tizzy. What I crave this time of year, when Spring begins to flirt with Winter, is strawberries and asparagus. What I make, when March decides to turn on the faucet, is soup.
And when nothing but tomato soup will do, with nary a sun-ripened tomato in sight, I turn to those delightful tomatoes in a can: San Marzanos.
This is a simple, belly-warming soup that can be whipped up inside of an hour. Make it thick and chunky or smooth and creamy with no dairy added. Make it vegan by using vegetable stock and omitting the butter. Make as much or as little as you want, adjusting the ingredients accordingly.
Winter to Spring Tomato Soup with Gruyere and Fried Capers
Christine's original recipe
Several teaspoons olive oil and butter for the pan.
2 large cans San Marzano whole, peeled tomatoes
2 or so cloves garlic, peeled and finely diced
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1-2 medium carrots, pared and cut into small dice
1 stalk celery (optional), strings removed, cut into small dice
4 cups good, organic chicken stock (I used homemade or Pacific Organic, Low Sodium)
Chopped fresh basil if you can get it, or several sprigs of fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoons capers, drained and fried
1-2 tablespoons gruyere cheese, shredded
Have a large stock pot ready on the stove.
Put the oil and butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. When hot add the onions, carrots and optional celery and saute until just softened, about 7 minutes. Adjust the heat so the vegetables don't burn.
When the veggies are soft, add the garlic and saute another minute, stirring so the garlic doesn't burn.
Turn off the heat and transfer the vegetables to the stock pot.
Add the tomatoes to the skillet and break them up, deglazing the pan in the process, then add to the stock pot.
Turn the heat under the stock pot to medium-high and add the chicken stock and the thyme, if using.
Bring the soup to just under a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for about 1/2 hour or until all the vegetables are very, very tender. The liquid will reduce a bit during this process.
Adjust the seasonings with sea salt and black pepper to taste.
When done, turn off the heat and allow the soup to cool slightly. If you are using fresh chopped basil, add it now.
Blend the soup to the consistency you desire, using a stick blender right in the pot, or by transferring in batches to a food processor or blender.
If the soup is too thick, add a bit of stock.
To make a fancy presentation, ladle the soup into wide, shallow, heated bowls and sprinkle with fried capers and grated Gruyere. Enjoy while the weather is fickle!
Sharp eyes will see that the photo at the top is watermarked with the year 2014 and indeed that is when it was taken. I make this soup a lot when the weather is chilly and this particular photo was the best representation of the recipe.
Copyright 2005-2015, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved