It came upon us as quick as a blink, didn't it? I can't say I was completely ready. Of course I'm talking about our old friend, Fall.
What a summer we had here! Glorious it was and longer than our typical (and measly) eight weeks. This year the sun and warmth stretched impossibly across late spring well into the third week of September. The long days of light! We were living the dream.
I do love the Fall, though. Cool mornings with spider webs damp and glistening in the light, fog hanging low across tree tops. Sitting by the fire at night.
Then, of course there's soup.
Late last summer, I became obsessed with April Bloomfield's Summer Tomato Soup. I couldn't stop making or eating it. The minute I stopped eating it, I would start thinking about it again, the memory of its umami flavors causing the most primitive parts of my brain to clang, "Make soup. Again! Must eat!"
I'm not exaggerating.
Some of you might think it's a bit late to be talking about tomatoes, but I know that a good tomato or two can still be found (I've seen them with my own eyes at the Ballard Farmer's Market most recently). Stragglers though they may be, they must be used, so this is what you should do with them without question: Make soup.
This soup takes those end-of-summer tomatoes sitting on your counter and combines them with the straggler red bell peppers that you also still have on hand.
Roast the peppers to the point of blackened char. Skin them. Add them to the tomatoes with salt, olive oil, a smidge of water. Toss in a few basil leaves and you're done. So easy. Low effort for a spoonful of glory.
Fall and winter can be hard on those of us who live around here. It gets so dark and stays damp for such a long time that light and warmth can become an abstract idea, a mere daydream. To gird against such occasions, it's best to make some extra of this soup and freeze it. Now.
When darkness and rain envelopes us soon enough, late summer will live on, if only in a bowl.
Heirloom Tomato and Charred Red Pepper Soup
Adapted from April Bloomfield.
Makes 4 servings.
2 lbs. heirloom tomatoes
1 lb. red peppers (or a mix of red and orange)
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup olive oil
3 teaspoons flaky sea salt such as Maldon
1/4 cup water
One handful of fresh basil leaves
1 scant teaspoon of basil pesto (optional)
Preheat oven to 475°. Place peppers on side on baking sheet. Once the oven reaches temperature, place sheet in oven. Roast peppers for 20-25 minutes, until blackened and blistered. Immediately place peppers in a large bowl and cover with plastic to allow peppers to steam. Once they have cooled, peel skin and remove stems and seeds. Set aside.
Place a fine-meshed sieve over a large bowl. Cut tomatoes in half, removing stems and any hard parts. Gently squeeze tomatoes over strainer, allowing juices to run through. Using fingertips, push any remaining seeds out of the tomato flesh. Place pieces of tomato flesh in bowl with juice.
Place 3 tablespoons olive oil with garlic in a medium pot. Cook over medium-high heat for a minute or two until garlic is just becoming golden. Add tomatoes and their juices and peppers. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and a few of the basil leaves. Give everything a stir and cover.
After about 5 minutes, when tomatoes and peppers are swimming in juices, uncover and add the water. Stir. Adjust heat so that the mixture simmers gently. Allow to cook for 20 minutes.
Once the mixture has cooked, turn off heat, add the other 2 teaspoons of salt. Add remaining basil leaves. Add pesto if using. Add the 1/4 cup of olive oil. Using an immersion blender, blend soup until it has emulsified and become smooth and creamy. Adjust salt if you like. Serve warm in bowls.