It's bloody fantastic!
A quick soup--hurriedly prepared between setting up for our monthly dance night and going back to dance the night away--but a bona fide home run.
If you want me to get a bit nostalgic about the time I spent in England in college, all you have to do is put on the Strokes or the Dandy Warhols. But if you want me to wax poetic about the whole experience, well, that requires a venture into the land of tomato and orange soup. Having to spend only 47p a can at Tesco, I quickly became addicted to the stuff. Who knows if I'd like it if I could find it somewhere now; all I have is a sense memory of mythic proportion.
My last attempt to recreate something with approximately the same flavor profile (hola, overused Top Chef catchphrase) brought about a veritable Dark Night of the Soup that has haunted me these past twelve months.
I'm happy to report, though, that I finally made something that made me happy in the way only a food that holds some meaning for you can. That transportive quality, when a bite doesn't just taste good, it sends your mind and your mood to another dimension.
I'm not saying this soup will do the same thing for everyone, but I do think it would go over well with just about anyone. It has enough novelty, just conceptually, to work as a starter for a dinner party, and the spicy citrus flavor is a surprising one (even when you're expecting it).
Now, a confession. This photo is a lie:
If you ask me, it's one of nature's cruelest tricks that tomatoes and citrus aren't in season at the same time.
I knew it wasn't going to work, even as I was picking out those sad, mealy, deceivingly-red February tomatoes. I stubbornly soldiered on, blanching, peeling, chopping one, then two tomatoes before coming to. This was not going to work. Spongy pink flesh does not a satisfying soup make.
San Marzanos to the rescue! I try to make it a point to always have a can or two of these babies around, and boy do they come in handy. I'd still like to try this with fresh tomatoes sometime, but my emergency modifications to the recipe were more than successful. In fact, I can already say with a fair amount of certainty that this is going to be one of my favorite soups of 2011.
Oh, and how's this for a bright idea: I want to make this again soon, maybe add a bit more of the tomato juice, chill it, blend it till it's a bit smoother, add a bit of horseradish and vodka and make a seriously killer Bloody Mary. Anyone for Brunchageddon/Armabruncheon in March again?
Tomato Blood Orange Soup
quite liberally adapted from A Beautiful Bowl of Soup, by Paulette Mitchell
2 servings or 4 starter servings
1 28-ounce can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup tomato juice (from can of tomatoes)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (leave out if you don't want it spicy)
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh basil
3 ripe, juicy blood oranges
1 tablespoon sugar
dash of pomegranate molasses
Heat oil in your soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about five minutes. While the onion is cooking, tear tomatoes into a bowl, then drain the juice back into the can to reserve.
Add tomatoes and garlic to the pot, and cook for about 5 minutes.
Add vegetable stock and tomato juice, and pour into your pot. Add red pepper flakes, thyme, and basil. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, juice the blood oranges into a bowl with your hands, getting lots of pulp in as well.
Remove the herbs and discard, and remove pot from heat. Stir in orange juice, sugar, pomegranate molasses, and salt and pepper to taste. Eat, and be happy.