August and September are some of the most rewarding months of the year for a farmer. You are literally reaping all that you have sown. Late spring and early autumn have always been the busiest times of year for me. Not only am I spending many hours harvesting but also preparing ground and new seedlings for fall planting. And the fun doesn’t stop there because when I go home at night there are boxes of tomatoes just waiting to be turned into salsa or sauce. The tomato soup dinner that occurred recently was purely the result of trying to find a way to make dinner and tomato sauce at the same time. I am a big fan of multitasking (coffee and breakfast in the bathtub, don’t knock it til you try it).
I like my tomato sauce like my tomato soup without the seeds and skins. That way when I go to use it in the winter all it needs is some garlic, herbs and salt and it’s ready to go. I like to cook the tomatoes until they are soft and run them through the food mill into another pot to remove the skins and seeds.
If I was ever going to write a love song to an inanimate object, I think it would be a Chimney Starter. This may have been the best $10.99 I have ever spent. You stick paper in the bottom, coals on top, light the paper and walk away. In about 20 minutes you’re ready to grill. That’s IT! And since it is my dream to someday have an amazing outdoor kitchen where I can cook all spring and summer I will take any opportunity to cook dinner outside on a grill that until I have that kitchen.
Eating soup in the summer is an act of defiance (especially in the south without air conditioning). I have never been a fan of gazpacho. It just makes me wish I had tortilla chips while simultaneously wondering why I am eating salsa with a spoon. I also dislike iced coffee. So there you have it, I’m sweaty and drinking Americanos and eating hot soup all summer.
Quick grilled flat bread is also a great alternative to turning on the oven during the hottest part of the day.
Heirloom Tomato Soup with Grilled Herb Flat Bread
For the soup:
approximately 8 lbs. of heirloom tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced small
1 clove garlic
1 sprig of oregano
queso fresco and minced parsley to garnish
Place the heirloom tomatoes in a large pot and put about 1/2 inch water on the bottom. Turn the heat on medium-high and cook until the tomatoes are liquid. Run the tomatoes through a food mill into another bowl. In a medium saucepan heat the olive oil and add the onions and garlic. Saute until both are softened and fragrant. Add oregano and tomato back to the pot. simmer on low until the tomato soup is the deserved thickness that you prefer. The sauce with continue to get a stronger more concentrated tomato flavor the longer you cook it down and simmer the water out. Add a generous amount of queso fresco and fresh parsely on top.
For the Bread:
1 tablespoon minced oregano
1 tablespoon minced sage
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons agave or maple syrup
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 – 3 cups white unbleached flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup melted butter
Add the herbs, water, yeast and agave or maple syrup to a large bowl. Let sit for about 10 – 15 minutes in a warm place until the yeast starts to bubble and is active. Add a little salt. Add whole wheat flour and then begin to add white flour one cup at a time. You will want to mix it in slowly because you don’t want it to be too dry. It’s better to have the dough a little wet and you can always keep adding flour incrementally as you knead if it is sticking a lot. Turn the dough onto a floured counter or cutting board and begin to knead. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes adding flour as needed until the ball is round and smooth.
Swirl a tablespoon of olive oil around your mixing bowl and place the dough ball back inside. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for one hour in a warm place where it will roughly double in size.
At this point you want to divide the dough into individual breads. I like to use a scale because I like uniform sizes and am not good at judging dough weights. BUT this recipe made me 8 balls of dough so if you want to just use your judgement and cut it into 8 pieces that would probably work fine too. I cut the pieces to 3 ounces on the scale.
Take the pieces of dough and roll them into a ball on a clean surface. You shouldn’t really have to use more flour to work with them but it’s ok if you do. Place the dough balls on a lightly floured sheet tray and lightly flour the top of them. Cover with plastic wrap.
Let this dough proof again and relax for about 30 – 40 minutes. Right BEFORE you shape these is an idea time to get the grill going. When you are ready, take the tray out to the grill with some melted butter and a brush. I like to flatten the ball down on the tray and then carefully stretch it out a little in my hands then place it directly on the grill. If your grill is very hot it won’t take long at all. Check the side down on the grill after about 45 seconds. It should be hard and slightly charred. Brush the side facing you with butter. Turn over bread. Brush the already cooked side with butter. When the underneath side is cooked remove from the grill ( I would brush it again with butter and add a little sea salt at this point, but that’s up to you).
Serve hot and fresh with your tomato soup.