This year, the Locavore Challenge coincided perfectly with a shift in the weather. We found ourselves suddenly lifted out of the sweltering, watermelon-craving heat of summer and arriving in a land of cool mornings, sweaters and, most importantly, soups. This is also the perfect time to appreciate the bounty of the farmers market because almost everything (except for strawberries, asparagus, etc) is in season. There’s no excuse for not eating local at this time of year! It’s so easy and so rewarding!
Tomato basil soup is one of my all-time favorites, so I picked up a giant bag or multi-colored fragrant tomatoes this weekend at Green City Market. I’ve copied the recipe below, noting substitutions I made to keep it local. Enjoy!
Ingredients (I tripled this recipe so I’d have extra soup to freeze)
1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (sunflower oil from Century Sun Oil at GCM)
1 large red onion, diced
½ c chopped celery
½ c chopped carrot
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar or honey (Honey from Heritage Prairie, Ellis Farms or the Chicago Honey Co-op)
4 cups whole roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 jar sun dried tomatoes, drained and rinsed (I’ve been dehydrating cherry tomatoes from Leaning Shed all summer long)
4 cups low sodium, fat free chicken broth or veggie stock (Veggie stock is easy to make from veggie scraps, but I didn’t end up needing this because the celery and carrot add such a nice flavor contrast to the tomato).
1 c picked basil leaves
Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste (not much you can do about this!)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes plus more for topping (happened to have a dried cayenne from Genesis lying around!)
1 Tbsp shaved parmesan plus additional sprinkles for topping, optional
1. In a large saucepan and a little olive oil, caramelize the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, and brown sugar.
2. Add the tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes and bring to a simmer*. Season with salt & pepper.
3. Add the stock, simmer on low heat until very soft, at least 20 minutes. Add the basil and puree.
4. Add crushed red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese. Check for seasoning and enjoy!
Makes 6 1 1/2 cup servings
*If you have a food mill, it’s always nice to put your tomatoes through it to get the seeds out. I don’t have a food mill and I don’t mind my tomato soup with a little texture.