23 February 2008

on the set: tarragon tomato soup + grilled cheese

It's one of the last days of shooting on the set of The Tell-Tale Heart here in Lee, New Hampshire. I've been serving hot soup to the cast and crew at least once a day, as they're spending their time inside and outside of an old abandoned house, with very little or no heat, and nothing's better than a nice bowl of soup to get over being so chilly! This time around, lunch was 'just like mom used to make'. I made grilled cheese, grilled ham and cheese, chocolate oatmeal chocolate chip walnut cookies, a green salad, and non-dairy tarragon scented tomato soup.

It was lovely to see people's faces light up when they came in and saw this spread. The director's brother Max, one of the production assistants, said to me, 'This is the best tomato soup I've ever had.' Now you can try it for yourself...

Recipe: Tarragon Tomato Soup
The fresh tarragon in this recipe really makes this soup happen. It adds a distinct sweetness and a faint fennel/anise flavor that puts a lovely twist on a classic. I think it can be a challenge to keep tomato soup from tasting like tomato sauce. Too often tomato soup has loads of butter, cream, or other heavy dairy to make the soup ‘creamy’. I didn’t understand this, as most soup, when you puree it, is already creamy, but maybe that’s just me. I’m sure this splash would be magnificent with a dollop of crème fraiche, or a splash of cream towards the end of cooking, if that’s your thing, but personally, I like to keep it simple. Though I will say, this soup goes mighty fine with a grilled cheese sandwich.

Serves 4-6
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or mix of olive oil and butter
1 large onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 small dried bay leaf
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon, divided
1/4 to 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh basil leaves (optional)
3 15 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
2 cups water or stock
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a pot and add in the onions. Sweat these for about 1 minute (if the onions begin to brown, turn down your heat). Then add in the garlic, the bay leaf, half of the tarragon, and all of the basil (if using) and sweat together for another minute or two.

2. Add in the crushed tomatoes and mix well. Stir in the water. Bring to a gentle boil and immediately turn the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Test for salt and pepper and adjust as necessary. Stir in the remaining tarragon. With an immersion blender (or carefully, in batches in a standing blender), blend the soup until smooth. For an extremely smooth soup, pass the puree through a chinois or fine mesh strainer.

3. Feel free to enjoy with a dollop of crème fraiche or sour cream. Or a grilled cheese sandwich.


everson marsh said...

ya know im excited to get to try this recipe out. Seeing that im still not in the right living situation to cook, ill have to hold off this desire of mine. But lookin at the recipe makes me craving some tomato soup. How do you prefer the consistency..thin almost water like, or a thicker mixture like watered down pudding. I have had it many ways, and different people lay claim to different consistency. I personally like it thinner but desire your input.

SABS said...

So question... a potential entry??

What do you do with the fresh herbs when you can't use them all. Is there some sort of drying technique to use? Ideally I would have an herb garden. But since I have been lazy and not gotten around to that, I get handful of herbs at the store. What do I do when I can't use them in time?

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