As we round out the remaining days of September, I must say that we have very little to complain about. The gardens are cleared — winter garlic is planted — crops are in the bin for the most part, and our pumpkins are slowly turning. The weather has been exceptionally beautiful, warm, and sunny and while the nights are cool. We know darn well that it could be much worse.
The colours this year are as breath-taking as ever. As I absorb the golden glow of my writer’s view, a ravine filled with gilded birch trees, I feel very lucky and almost settled on my new homestead. This time last year, I was writing to the hum of a camper trailer furnace and contemplating how I was going to manage sleeping in the barn for the winter. Reflection comes naturally with the season and I find myself doing it quite often. Having a home instead of freezing in the camper is an absolute joy, even if the siding isn’t finished. Ever important, reflection keeps us grounded and helps us to appreciate the ‘here and now’.
My ‘here and now’ is still dealing with an abundance of tomatoes. With my last recipe, I shared a technique on how to preserve the most-treasured harvest bounty — the vine-ripened tomato. This week, I use the roasted tomatoes, featured in my last column, to create a dish that demonstrates the amazing signature tomato-ness. In an effort to keep us grounded in our own delicious flavours and textures I balance the beautiful Manitoba-grown tomato with the spiced autumn flavours of curry. Naturally, the rich, creamy texture will help to ease the mind as we lose the shorts, sandals, and extra hours of daylight.
It’s not all bad; there are no bugs and autumn does allow more time to reconnect with friends. Gearing up for local socials, after-harvest parties, hunting shack shin-digs, and of course, my favourite … CHRISTMAS! Yes, that’s right, I mentioned Christmas in September — I love it that much.
But I must keep my mind in the ‘here and the now’, and today that is on tomatoes. When you prepare this soup, there are some alternatives to the recipe I supplied below. If you want a lighter version, skip the cream and use a little milk to buffer the acidity of the tomatoes or top the bowl with some mozzarella cheese for a dairy balance. If the soup is thicker than desired just add more stock. If the soup is too thin for your liking, just let it simmer a little longer to reduce the water content of it. As always, the flexibility and versatility is endless. Keep it thicker and it would make a great sauce or braising liquid for chicken or lamb. It is a great base for a stew or pasta dish, its solid flavour profile would make a good backbone for any casserole.
With the sun setting quicker every evening, I feel as though we can finally catch up on the sleep lost for the productivity of long summer days. We are eating supper before 9 p.m. and that is a refreshing change. With earlier nights and frosty mornings the seasonal transition renews our appreciation for wood fires, tea, soup, Scotch, and wool sweaters. It’s all part of reflection as we put away our summer gear and prepare for the season ahead. But before I get ahead of myself, enjoy the golden ‘here and now’ — it’s absolutely gorgeous!
Cream of Tomato Curry Soup
• 4 cups chopped tomatoes, lightly tossed in 1-2 tbsp olive oil and roasted
• 1 large onion diced
• 3-5 cloves of garlic, diced
• 1 tbsp butter
• 2-3 tbps of sugar- to taste
• Kosher salt to taste
• 2 tsp of curry powder
• 1 bay leaf
• 3 cups of broth, vegetabe, beef, or chicken. **I used 2 cups chicken and 1 cup of beef.
• About 350 ml of whipping cream. ** set some aside for garnish.
Preheat oven to 425 F. Chop the tomatoes into even-sized pieces and lightly coat with 1-2 tbsp of olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and roast for about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow them to cool.
Heat butter in saucepot on medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook until it begins to caramelize on the bottom of the pot. Add the curry powder, stir for about 3 minutes and add the stock. Stir to remove all the delicious caramelized flavour from the bottom of the pot and then remove from heat.
To get the creamy texture naturally, puree the cooled tomatoes in a blender. Puree the curry stock and onions to ensure the entire soup is smooth. Strain if you are a real stickler, but if you like the rustic appeal of all the goodness in the bowl, just pour it all back into the pot to simmer.
Add the bay leaf, sugar, and salt; then simmer for 10-15 minutes, taste and season accordingly. To finish the soup add the cream right at end and gently simmer for 5 minutes the serve. **Use low heat or the cream will separate!
Garnish: whipped cream infused with curry powder makes a beautiful and easy garnish. Just put 1/3 cup of cream in a bowl, a couple dashes of curry powder and whisk until soft peaks. Spoon on top of hot soup and serve.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 29, 2012