Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Long Break – and Tomato Soup

It's hard to believe my absence from this space has been so long.  I've thought often about what I should be blogging about, but it has been one of those times when life outside the inter-webs is just too busy.

We have had a great summer and fall.  We moved into what I lovingly call a "less little" house.  It was bittersweet to leave our original home… it being the place where we first lived when we were married and brought our girls home.  But we were slowly running out of room and an opportunity almost literally presented itself to us and so in July we pulled up stakes and moved… a very, very short distance away.

And between all the selling of the first house, packing, transactions for the second house, unpacking, painting, starting school, etc.  This blog got put on the back burner.

And now I hope to be back with regularity.  There has been plenty of making going on… even though it has been undocumented.  Here is one such thing… done in August… oof.

The less little house has much more counter space, and I am loving it.  Last year my grandfather gifted to me my grandmother's canning and preserving tools.  I got a big enameled canning pot and basket.  A really nice food mill was included.  So in August, I decided to take a break from priming and painting and I bought a half a bushel of tomatoes and made my first big mess in the new kitchen.  I made a plan to make a tomato soup base for the impending fall and winter.

I started with half a bushel of Roma tomatoes (23 lbs) and I halved them and sprinkled them generously with olive oil and salt and pepper and baked them in the oven at 400°F for one hour.  I included with one of the batches of tomatoes, a head of garlic, wrapped tightly in foil and roasted it along side.

After the roasting phase came the peeling and milling phase.  I peeled the halves and sent the roasted pulp and all their delicious juices through the food mill, so that the tomatoes were peel and seed free.

Food mill back in use
In a large dutch oven over medium heat, I melted two sticks of butter and sautéed seven shallots (diced small) until they were nearly translucent.  I then added the roasted and cleaned tomatoes, 4 oz of tomato paste and one cup of dry red wine.

I bought it all to a low boil and let it cook for another 30 minutes.  

In the meantime I had boiled all of my pint jars, lids and rings sterilized as well.  The canning process went really smoothly.  I boiled them all, seven at a time, in Noni's canning pot and every last one of them sealed.  I ended up with 17 pints of tomato soup base.

Canned and just waiting for a winter day!
We've already enjoyed a few since the weather has gotten cooler, we just heat the soup on the stove with some half and half or chicken stock and it is really delicious.  

It was one of the first projects that I undertook in the new house that made it feel like home.  

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