Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Preserving the bounty

If you know me at all, you know that I intensely dislike canning food. It's hot, messy, tedious, and potentially dangerous. I do, however, want to be able to enjoy some summer sunshine during the cold, bleak winter days. I'm able to do that with just a fraction of the effort by freezing my garden bounty, and this year I will have the tastiest roasted tomato sauce to make into soup and sauces.

I have a tomato-basil soup recipe from Barefoot Contessa that I discovered last winter. Paid dearly for those fresh tomatoes and basil, but very much enjoyed the end product. This year I grew my own and with the help of the Kalyn's Kitchen blog, I've got summer wrapped up in the freezer. Wish you could have smelled this while it was cooking...

Here's what I did:

Washed and chopped up the tomatoes. I can't tell you how many pounds, but I got a 9x13 pan and an 11x15 pan full. Chopped several cloves of garlic and sprinkled over. Seasoned with salt, pepper, and a tiny bit of red chili pepper. Drizzle with olive oil, stir, and pop into a 375 degree oven for about an hour, or until tomatoes begin to brown. I did not add any herbs - will do that when I use it in a recipe - gives me a little more versatility.
Here's the tomato basil soup recipe that I'll use it in:
Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
Copyright, 1999, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, All rights reserved
3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) canned plum tomatoes, with their juice
4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 quart chicken stock or water
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Toss together the tomatoes, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the tomatoes in 1 layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.
In an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken stock. Add the oven-roasted tomatoes, including the liquid on the baking sheet. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Pass through a food mill fitted with the coarsest blade. Taste for seasonings. Serve hot or cold.

(I won't have to do the tomato roasting, obviously, but can just put it all together to heat up. Oh, and the soup freezes nicely, too.)

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