As I have said before, summers here are hot and muggy. Very. And usually hot, muggy and wet in the late afternoon when thunder rolls in and we get caught by quick rain showers. Except these past few days. Rain has been around pretty much from sunset 'til dawn.
And we love it. Our backyard loves it. Our pecan tree is digging it. Bailey is literally jumping in and out of the creek to catch rain drops. On the other hand, Tippy gives me this look of "Hey! Can you do something about this rain? Really cramping my style now" every time we go for a walk. I suspect though that he enjoys the towel drying time afterwards.
The sun will trick you into forgetting your umbrella. The heat will convince you that you don't need to take your rain coat. We have gotten soaked more than once lately and we really just laugh it off. It actually feels good. Being neither hot or cold feels darn appropriate after our temperatures were steadily hovering between 100F-110F down here. Sunny with a side of rain? We're in!
The only problem with this weather is what it does to our eating habits. Braising, stewing, roasting are very much kept to a minimum. We love to be reminded that seasons are here for a reason and to take full advantages of the changes and new rituals they bring about. Thus, we are grilling and enjoying cold or warm fares a lot. Our favorite lentil salad is now served cold. Cooked and cooled rice gets a boost from freshly chopped basil and some feta chunks.
When the weather turns to rain as it has these past few days, all we really want is to sit down in front of a warm bowl of soup. B's favorite, tomato soup, quickly became mine too when I started making it from scratch with some basil and cream. As years went on I replaced the cream with eggplant which gave the same creamy results as well as a boost of nutrients and flavor.
This time, I picked up loads of local San Marzano tomatoes at the market, as well as some zebra eggplant, baby Vidalia and garlic, roasted them all together one evening and pureed them the next day into a soup. I served it at room temperature with some homegrown basil and a splash of tea seed oil (gift).
We have a wonderful pork purveyor at the market, Meathouse, operated by Jason and his wife Katie who always have freshly made Butifarra, Italian and andouille sausages, fresh cut applewood smoked bacon, and one of our favorites, freshly smoked and perfectly seasoned tasso ham. It is perfect with the creamy soup and you could substitute thick cut bacon if it's easier. I think it took us every bit of restraint not to polish off the entire pot on our own.
Before I head out, congratulations to J M. Smith from Do It All for winning the Threadless tee-shirt and BlogAid Cookbook! Send me your mailing address at mytartelette [at] gmail [dot] com. Thank you!
Roasted Tomato and Vegetable Soup With Tasso Ham
2 pounds fresh tomatoes
2 small zebra eggplants or one medium regular eggplant
1 head of garlic, cut in half
4 small vidalia onions, cut in half
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2-4 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil or tea seed oil, avocado, walnut or pumpkin (optional)
1/2 cup diced tasso ham or thick cut/slab bacon, cooked and drained
Preheat the oven to 450F.
Slice the tomatoes and eggplants and place them on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil. Place the garlic and onions on a separate baking sheet and drizzle with 1-2 teaspoons olive oil (if you have room left in the first pan, skip that step and add the garlic and onion to the tomatoes and eggplant). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place both baking sheets in the oven and roast the veggies until golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool.
Peel the garlic off its skins and place with the rest of the vegetables, saving a few tomato slices for garnish, in a food processor. Add about 1 to 2 cups of water and puree until smooth. Add enough water to reach your preferred consistency. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if desired.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with reserved tomato slices, drizzle of your favorite oil and some basil. Add some tasso ham as desired and serve.