Just down the road from the busiest part of town, there is a quiet country neighborhood that has been untouched by all of the restaurants, strip malls, and golf courses that surround it. The main road is covered by a canopy of oak trees, and mailboxes dot the end of long winding driveways that disappear into the brush. In the middle of the neighborhood sits an organic farm stand that is only open on the weekends. There are not many places like this one. With the exception of summer time when the temperatures are not ideal for growing, it’s dusty parking lot stays full to the brim. Not only does the farm grow their own pristine organic vegetables, but they also have a variety of nuts, seeds, honey, spices, and raw milk and cheese.
A large square table that sits in the middle of the stand, is normally where prized seasonal goods are displayed. That is where I found these beautiful heirloom tomatoes, spread in one layer across the table, so as not to bruise or damage the perfectly ripe fruit. They come in a wide range of colors from a bright yellow to a dark burgundy with green stripes. Although I tend to favor the darker ones, my usual habit is to buy at least one of each.
When I’m able to get my hands on an ingredient that is only available a few select times during the year, I like to create something simple that celebrates that robust peak-of-the-season flavor. Soup is always a good choice when you want to highlight a specific flavor. Because each spoonful fills your mouth, it hits all of the taste buds at once. This heirloom tomato soup is so velvety, you would never guess that it does not include cream in the ingredient list, as many tomato soups do. The butter alone is enough to cut through the acidity, something that took me a long time to learn. I enjoy this soup along with crackers or dried buckwheat sprinkled on top, and a green salad on the side.
Heirloom Tomato Soup
- 1 1/2 lbs tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 3/4 c red onion, sliced
- 3 Tbsp salted butter
- 2 c vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/4-1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/8 tsp ground pepper
- In large saucepan, melt butter. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add tomatoes and tomato paste, and cook, stirring, for an additional 5 minutes.
- Add broth and thyme, and simmer until tomatoes are broken down, about 15 minutes.
- Remove thyme, and pour cooled soup into blender and puree until smooth.
- Return to pan and season with salt and pepper.
This soup can be made ahead and refrigerated up to a few days.