Throughout the growing season, when the air is warm and fragrant and birds are abundant at the feeders, I am forever picking tomatoes from our vines. All different, heritage varieties grow in our humble vegetable patch, which with the help of the bees and other insects, tend to cross-pollinate. I don’t mind that at all. It’s just nature doing its thing.
But, what to do with all of these bright, red gems? Some, I like to share and the rest get canned or frozen for future recipes when Darren and I are at a point, in the depths of a Manitoba winter, when we yearn for the flavors of summer.
This simple, garden-to-table recipe is a standard here at The Olenick House and it can be served as an elegant first course at a gathering or paired with a crisp, garden salad for a quiet, weeknight supper.
(I have made suggestions, where possible, for ways to convert this into a vegetarian dish.)
Simple, Garden Tomato Bisque
3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
3 cups yellow onions, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
30 ounces of crushed tomatoes (From the garden or store bought)
1/2 cup heavy cream (Or combine two-parts soy milk with one-part olive oil to make 1/2 cup)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. (Olive oil has a much lower smoking point so medium heat is all that is needed.)
Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the edges begin to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
Stir in the chicken (or vegetable) stock and tomatoes. (If the tomatoes are from the garden, the skins should be removed before adding them.)
Bring to a boil then turn the heat to low and simmer for 20-25 minutes in order for the tomatoes to cook all the way down.
Once the tomatoes are completely rendered, add salt and pepper to taste. Stir to completely blend in.
Slowly introduce heavy cream or soy milk and olive oil mixture into the pot, then stir again to combine. As you stir, it will make a lovely marbling effect. When the marbling disappears, all will be combined.
The final step is to liquify the chopped onions in the soup. If not, the result is unwelcome chunks of onion in an otherwise smooth textured bisque. A hand blender right in the pot can be used or portions at a time can be put into a blender and then returned to the pot. If the blender method is chosen, be sure to heat the soup through for a few more minutes to ensure an even temperature.
Before serving, garnish each bowl with a bit of fresh parsley, a dollop of sour cream or perhaps a few sourdough croutons and you’re done!
Be warm and nourished, my friends!