August is now behind us on the central coast and the good tomatoes have finally made their way into the market… in abundance! Cherry, brandywine, cherokees, romas, green zebras, and the outstanding candy like dry farmed early girls were practically jumping out of their baskets and flats begging to come with me today at market. However, I had one variety in mind because tonight I’m making my favorite tomato soup. The lucky winners? A combination of cherokee purples and dry farmed early girls. They’re my favorite variety for soup because they have a wonderful flavor and a great color.
1 mix flat of Cherokee Purple tomatoes (or other similar flavorful heirloom variety) & early girls
3 sweet yellow onions, sliced
1 bulb of garlic
Olive oil, (enough to coat the bottom of a stock pot)
Fresh herbs (oregano, thyme, basil, & etc)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup cooking sherry
*Optional creme fresh or sour cream for garnish if serving immediately.
*2 tbsp lemon juice or 1/2 tsp citric acid for each quart jar if putting up.
Bring large pot of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil. While the water is heating, wash and core tomatoes and set aside until the water boils. Then in a second large stock pot heat olive oil and cook onions, garlic, herbs, 3 tablespoons of salt, and red pepper flakes over medium heat. While the onions are cooking begin the process for peeling the tomatoes and then add them to the onions, garlic, and herbs. Continue peeling and adding until all off the tomatoes are in the pot, add the cooking sherry, and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 1 hour uncovered and stirring occasionally.
Once tomatoes have cooked for an hour puree the mixture using a hand blender and then continue cooking on low for another hour, stirring occasionally, until to reduce and concentrate the flavors. Once soup has cooked for two hours begin tasting and add salt one tablespoon at time. Continue cooking a half hour at a time if flavors need to be concentrated further. When you’re satisfied with the flavor remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Have 12 clean sterilized jars and a 2 quart pitcher ready for filling for when soup has finished cooking. Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon citric acid to each jar. Using the pitcher pour the soup into the quart jars, clean rims if needed, and seal with lids and bands. Place jars into the boiling water bath canner and process for 45 minutes. When finished remove from canner and let cool completely. Label and store in cool dry place until ready to use. Refrigerate any jars that have not sealed after completely cooled.
When ready to serve, garnish with fresh basil and creme fresh.