Here I go with the heat again. But, forgive me, please. It's September, and it is ninety-seven degrees. In Maine. Where we moved to escape the heat and the humidity and...
It is unnerving.
Fortunately, the sizzling, sunny weather has kept late blight at bay in the garden, and our ripening heirloom tomatoes provide just the thing for my nerves—a beautiful tomato elixir. It's a soup that Jamie Oliver calls tomato consomme. Jamie is one of my heroes. I've always loved his slap-dash, flavorful style in the kitchen. And he endeared himself to me forever when he took on the battle to give school kids a healthy start in life. Did you see where test scores went up in science and English while absences for sickness went down? Woohoo! If you don't own his Jamie at Home cookbook, oh, do get it. Now. It is a feast of a cookbook, part gardening how-to and part kitchen magic. The photos—with the exception of a dead bunny—are almost as sensuous as the food itself: Delicious!
But back to the soup... This lovely, light tomato broth required only our energy and a blender's. Blossom, Fern, and I adapted Jamie's recipe a little, mostly because we were too hot to fuss with a butcher's hook.
Pink Brandywine tomato
Ruby Gold tomato
Here's how you can do it too:
Strip down to your dainties. Really. This is why there are no photos of the process. We were practically all natural. If there's one thing I learned from my mother, the less you wear in the kitchen during harvest-time, the longer you'll be able to bear being in the kitchen during harvest-time.
Clear out a space in your fridge that will hold your largest pot. This is both a good way to feed the chickens and cool off at the same time.
Then get out your largest pot—we use our enamel canning pot—and fit a crockery bowl down inside it. Around the rim of the bowl, secure at least a double layer of cheesecloth with clothespins.
Roughly chop up four-and-a-half pounds of burstingly juicy heirloom (or any truly flavorful vine-ripened) tomatoes.
Throw them in batches into a blender with:
—a large bunch of fresh basil leaves
—one two-inch nob of horseradish (or three teaspoons of horseradish); don't scrimp unless you've got a thing against zing
—a nick of garlic
—two tablespoons red wine vinegar
—a slice of beet (or if you can't stand not to use the whole beet, the whole beet)
—six-ish whole black peppercorns
Pulse everything until it's a bright mush then pour it slowly and carefully into your cheesecloth sling. Tent some clear wrap over it all.
Slide the pot and its precious load into the fridge.
Go swimming for five or six hours. Or seven.
When you come back, lift out the cheesecloth sling (with a whole new batch of delight for the chickens).
Pour the tomato elixir into chilled cups. Sip.
You may feel as though you are swimming all over again.
We used an entire beet (smallish), and it definitely verged on cranberry-punch color
Note: We have found that the chilled mush, if left overnight in the fridge, will give off another clear and delicious helping large enough to serve the whole family again. Also, Jamie uses vodka in his. And I'm thinking that there's a cocktail just waiting to be made with this elixir. If you discover what it is, will you please let us know?
Next up in our festival of tomatoes: Sungold tomato jam!