I am particularly excited about today’s guest post because Jacqui isn’t just one of my favorite food bloggers—she’s one of my favorite writers, one of my favorite eaters, one of my favorite people. She also lives very close by, so I get to hang out with her sometimes, and that’s very fine.
Before I start rambling on about food, I’d just like to thank Shannalee for inviting me into this lovely space she has. If you don’t know her personally, you probably should, because she really is one of a kind. The kind that you can meet just once and know that yes, we’ll be good friends, I can tell.
Now, about these tomatoes.
They were from my future sister-in-law’s garden, and as soon as I laid eyes on them, I knew we’d be friends, too. These were not your perfectly round, fit-in-the-palm-of-your-hand, flawless tomatoes that shimmer in piles at the grocery store. No, these were large and awkward, so wide that they curled up at the ends, as if trying to look like any other tomato but failing miserably.
I couldn’t help but think of someone very tall who slouches in order to appear shorter. And I thought that that’s a shame because no one should have to hold back from standing tall and proud, just to fit in with everyone else. I hate to sound cliché and tell you that it’s what’s on the inside that counts, but when cutting through those tomatoes, it just couldn’t get much simpler than that. The flesh was bright and meaty, almost sighing with relief as juice spilled across the cutting board. As if they had been holding back so much and finally had a chance to give.
I made these tomatoes into a bisque, plain and simple, because I didn’t want them hiding out in a one-pot wonder of whatever-is-in-the-fridge, as I’m known to make every now and again. Simmered in chicken stock with onions and garlic, pureed and combined with cream and basil, the tomatoes stood out just as they were meant to: tall and proud.
Creamy Tomato Basil Bisque
Adapted from One for the Table
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter, or both
3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 medium onion, diced
8 large ripe red tomatoes, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
A handful of fresh basil, chopped
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until onion is soft, about 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid is reduced by one quarter, about 20 minutes. Turn off heat and cool for 10 minutes.
Using a stick blender, puree the soup until smooth (or, if using a blender or food processor, puree in batches). Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then add cream and basil. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with a grilled cheese sandwich or hunks of buttery garlic bread.