Scrumdiddlyumptious Heirloom Tomato Soup with Farmer Cheese Dollop

July 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Being a native Tucsonan, I’m not the kind to get sappy or nostalgic over summertimes.  I’ve bolted out of the desert each June and July since high school, fleeing to higher elevations, running water or — in the case of Guatemala — cities with giant floods and goosebump-nights.  About a month ago, shortly before I left for Santa Fe, I mopped my brow as I tried to yank out the pernicious mint crop that reappeared between my tomato plants.  It was nearly 8am and nearing double-digit temperatures; after some ferocious tugging (that proved futile), I stomped up the garden steps and told my sun-bathing dog that I’d like to fast-forward through the rest of summer thank-you-very-much.

As with all blanket statements, that one was spoken a bit hastily.  As tempting as Fall sounds at the heat of the day (or heat of dawn), it occurs to me that skipping summertime would yield a lifetime of mealy roma tomatoes from Safeway.  In the southwest, we eat our first tomatoes in May; along the east coast, we eat them in August.  Regardless of where you slice your tomatoes, you won’t be making salsa unless it’s toasty outside or you have a greenhouse at your disposal.

This soup is my summertime staple.  There are few ingredients, so make sure they’re high quality.  Heirloom tomatoes are key.  Here’s a tip: At $5.50 a pound, heirloom tomatoes can be pricy to chuck into a soup.  My remedy is to stop by the farmers’ market and ask for “sauce tomatoes.”  Sauce tomatoes are the squishy guys — the ones that are marked down to a buck-or-so a pound that farmers can’t sell alongside other pristine specimines.  These tomatoes may have a bug hole, a sunken top, a deformed edge or they might be a mutant.  Stock up on a few of these blemished fruits for your soups.  The flavor is outstanding.

P.S.  I like this brand of farmer cheese that you can find in specialty food stores.  (For those on the SCD diet, this cheese is a-okay.)

Ingredients for the Soup:
3 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped (approximately 2 cups)
1 medium, yellow onion, chopped
10 garlic scapes (or 4 cloves), minced
½ tablespoon butter
½ tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons pesto
sea salt & pepper, to taste
few basil leaves, for garnish

Ingredients for the Farmer Cheese Topping:
8 oz. Farmer Cheese (dry curd cottage cheese)
2 tablespoons pesto
1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
2 small cloves garlic, minced
sea salt & pepper, to taste

Method:

1. Heat butter and olive oil in a large pot on medium-high heat.  When hot, add onions and garlic scapes and sauté approximately 10 minutes until onions are wilted, but not caramelized, and scapes are al dente, but not completely tender.  If using garlic cloves, sauté onion only and add garlic just before adding the heirloom tomatoes.

2. Chop tomatoes in large, ½” hunks.  Add to onions and scapes and reduce heat to a simmer (medium-low).  When the tomatoes have loosened and lost some of their liquid and shape, add the pesto.  Continue simmering for 10-15 minutes until scapes are tender, the tomatoes have completely lost their shape and the soup is liquidy.

3. While the soup simmers, prepare cheese topping.  Combine the farmer cheese with pesto, minced garlic, thyme and lemon juice.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  (I often add an additional spritz of lemon or a pinch of sea salt at this stage.)  Set aside.

4. When soup has finished cooking, remove from heat.  Serve into individual bowls with a dollop of herbed cheese on top.  Enjoy leftovers up to three days; this soup also freezes and thaws well.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe, gluten-free

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